THE UNIVERSITY OF
THE WILMER COLLECTION
OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS
RICHARD H. WILMER, JR.
» m i««»» m t« n 4« nm «i
My Young Master
A Kentucky Colonel
On the Suwanee River
A Tennessee Judge
Works of Strange Power and Fascination
Uniformly bound in extra cloth,
gold tops, ornamental covers, un-
cut edges, six volumes in a box,
Sold separately, $1.00 each.
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Opie Read and Frank Pixley
OTHER STORIES BY OPIE READ
"Old Ebenezer." "My Young Master," "On the Suwanee River,"
"A Kentucky Colonel," "A Tennessee Judge,"
"The Jucklins," etc., etc.
LAIRD & LEE, PUBLISHERS
Kntered according to Act of Congress in the year eighteen
huudreti and ninety-nine, by
WILLIAM H. LEE,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
(ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
. . . . . .
The American Czar,
The Girl from the North,
A Railroad mostly Swamps,
The Alligator Boy,
Old Steve's Missionary,
The Old Man's Sweat Box,
Who Does the Counting?
The Governor wipes out a Blot.
The Governor's Sunday,
The High-headed Woman,
A Sigh and a Drink,
He Meets a Bullet,
Who raised the Devil?
The Old Man's side of it.
A Horticultural Idea,
Not Quite so Muddy,
Nothing but Action now, .
The Whipporwill's Call, .
Moving the Menagerie,
A Bad Way to Sprinkle the Law«,
Chap. XXI. The Boy at the Spring, . . . 191
XXII. Face to Face with Himself. . 200
XXIII. Drawing Hinn Out, ... 207
XXIV. The Governor Meets the "Bad Man." 220
XXV. Food for Scandal 229
XXVI. The Major Files an Objection, . 237
XXVII. A Faded Rose. . . .246
XXVIII. In a Dead Man's Hand, . . 254
XXIX. The Check that Conscience Draws, 260
XXX. A Good Time-Piece, ... 269
XXXI. Mr. Willets Makes a Point, . . 288
XXXII. What Jim Found, . . 291
XXXIII. The Waters Cleared. ... 302
Many plays have been made from novels ; this is a
book made from a play. "The Carpetbagger" origin-
ally was written as a four-act comedy. It was performed
for thirty weeks during the theatrical season of 1898-9,
under the intelligent management of Mr. Tim Murphy,
and met with a most flattering reception. There
have been so many requests for the preservation of this
story in permanent form, that we have been led to
publish it as a novel, and the result is before you.
Don't search your histories for the Carpetbagger
herein introduced. He isn't there. Our Carpetbagger
is not one who really was, but one who might have been.
We have not written history ; but we have told much
truth, a virtue which not all history possesses. The
character of Melville Crance is consistent with the
times in which he lived ; consistent with the Yankee
nature — with that of any man who, though gone astray,
knows the road that leads back to honesty.
• THE AUTHORS.
THE AMERICAN CZAR
At the close of the Civil War it had not been
proved to the world that this government was more
than an experiment. A great rebellion had been
crushed but victory lay red upon a devastated land.
Throughout the South force was law. It seemed
that the very principle of democracy had been
shrouded in a tent-cloth. Society sighed out its
breath in despair. For the aged there was no hope
and youth had been taught iconoclasm. Then was
begun the slow work of reconstruction. Each day
was a whimsical joke. Politics was a comic opera
and statemanship a farce. From the North there
came a horde of political gamblers whom the
Southerners contemptuously called "Carpetbag-
gers." Many of them were men of marked ability;
nearly all were "characters"; but few indeed had
held positions of trust at home. They enacted the
10 THE CARPETBAGGER
mockery of re-establishing civil law. While some
scrambled for places on the bench, the boldest
managed to install themselves in the chairs once
held by sedate old governors. These olBces v^ere
not meted out by fitness. It is not know^n that
they were not won with dice.
Prominent among these adventurers was Melville
Crance, Governor of Mississippi. He was a tall,
rather gaunt man of fifty, with a serious face and
the Yankee light of humor in his eye. In Chicago
he had been an auctioneer and at the beginning
of the war had joined a cavalry regiment. It was
said that he served with distinction. No one could
doubt his nerve. No one had cause to suspect
that he ever entertained an honest thought. He
was not well educated but was far from ignorant.
On one occasion he was heard to remark: "Oh,
whenever I find that a man has more education
than I have, I skip his learning and hit his common-
sense." As the alien governor of a proud, old
state, humbled into the dust, he was, of course, most
enthusiastically hated. Socially he was ostracised.
THE CARPETBAGGER 11
Women turned up their noses at him in the street.
His daily mail consisted largely of threatening
letters. One morning while going to his office he
overheard a man say: "Bet you ten dollars that
fellow won't live a month." And then came the
reply: "You want a sure thing when you bet."
Such was the atmosphere in which he lived; and
yet, within his jurisdiction, he was supreme, an
absolute monarch in a republic, an American czar.
The president of the nation never would have dared
to usurp such authority. His word was arrest,
fine, imprisonment. He and his friends owned the
legislature. A rebellious member who ventured to
oppose a bill was promptly brought before a com-
mittee, "investigated" and expelled from the House
on the pretext of ballot-box trickery at the time
of his election. It was a huge joke but the recal-
citrant had to go.
A ring of lobbyists was the nearest approach to
a gubernatorial board of advisers. The Governor,
with his shrewdness, could not shut his eyes to the
greed and lawlessness of those fellows; but why
12 THE CARPETBAGGER
should he care? He was there not to detect thiev-
ery but to make it profitable to himself. His sense
of humor was his conscience; and humor, which is
always half a rascal, ever stands ready to pardon a
Chief among these lobbyists was a man named
Willetts. Before the war he had been a gambler
on the Mississippi river. It was said that he once
had bet two negro boys on a "four flush". An
opponent "raised" him with two men and he "lay
down." This was a river lie, of course, but it illus-
trated his character. When the war "broke out,"
he broke out, too — went to Canada, remained till
peace was nominally established and then hurried
South with the Carpetbaggers. His sole recom-
mendation was his coolness, and it was a good
one, for at that time Mississippi was not an appro-
priate place for a hot-headed man.
"Yes, I'm cool enough," he remarked one day
to the Governor, "but I'm not as cool as you are.
I understand that you've sent for your daughter."
"Yes, she's tired of school — thought I'd give her
THE CARPETBAGGER 13
"Vacation? In such a place as this!" Willetts
The Governor looked at him with a dry smile.
'"Why not? I live in the finest mansion in the
city of Jackson, And it's a most exclusive place.
The neighbors never bother me; no back-door
callers. No one ever borrows a tea-cup of vinegar
from me. I'm left alone to the repose of my li-
brary, where I can muse over the bills introduced
into the legislature. She'll like it and why should-
n't I have at least one congenial visitor?"
"But some one shot at you one night, not long
"A bullet did come through the window and bore
into 'The Life and Character of S. S. Prentiss,'
but that's all. The window was up at the time
and the glass wasn't broken. Yes, Nellie wanted
to come down here, and I told, her to come on.
Things are gradually getting better. Some of the
preachers have advocated forgiveness, and the
lawyers are hammering away in the couFts. Oh,
it will all come around in time."
14 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Yes," said Willetts, "and I think we ought to
make the most of it — in time. As soon as they
hear the facts at Washington — why, we'll be bun-
dled out of here, that's all. For a year or more
they may believe that it's simply the usual howl
of the spiteful, but sooner or later the truth "
"What's that?" The Governor looked up with a
twinkle. "The truth? I'm a plain-spoken man,
and I don't believe in the introduction of such
strange figures of speech. I'm busy. As you go
out tell Lummers to come here."
This talk had taken place in the Governor's
private office, off from the executive chamber. It
was mainly noted for a large demijohn which stood
on a shelf. The old man took a certain number of
drinks a day. What that number was no one ever
discovered; but no one could say that he was ever
under the influence of whiskey. He smacked his
mouth over his liquor, and that sort of drinker is
not often found among the drunkards.
Lummers came into the room. The Governor
had given him the post of private secretary, not
THE CARPETBAGGER 15
because he was bright, but because he was not.
He was faithful enough to be useful, dull enough
not to investigate motive, and that was a virtue
under the administration of Melville Crance.
"Lummers, do you remember a piece of paper
with 48 and a star marked on it?"
"Do you know where it is?"
"Yes, sir, I can bring it to you.'
"Well, that's exactly what I don't want. I want
it to disappear. Understand?"
"I think I do, sir."
"But I don't want you to think. You under-
"A committee from the house may call for that
paper. The rascals are getting a trifle too inde-
pendent. It was stolen, Lummers."
"And I think that we can prove, if necessary,
that it was stolen by a man named Simpson. He's
the chairman of an investigating committee."
16 THE CARPETBAGGER
"We can prove it, sir."
"If necessary. It may not be."
"That's all. Go on."
Lummers went back to his desk in the executive
chamber. Yes, he was dull; but under the tutelage
of Mr. Willetts he was beginning to brighten — not
sufficiently to betray himself with shining, but
enough, perhaps, to serve the purpose of the
THE GIRL FROM THE NORTH
Within an hour after her arrival at the guberna-
torial mansion, Nellie Crance was completely mis-
tress of the place. She romped along the wide halls,
ran up and down the stairs three steps at a time,
burst unannounced into the library and put to flight
a legislative committee in conference with the gov-
ernor. She waited for no introduction. Why
should she? Was she not the daughter of the
greatest man in Mississippi, and, in her estimation,
the greatest in the world?
For the first time big Jim, the governor's body
servant, found his exclusive prerogatives ques-
tioned. "She's a tulip," he soliloquized, as he
watched her flitting about the house. "Ef she aint
I don' know er flower w'en I sees it."
"Who lives over there?" she inquired, pointing
toward a big stone house half hidden among the
trees beyond the garden.
18 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Mis' Fairburn," replied the negro, leaning
against one of the tall Corinthian pillars of the
"Miss Fairburn," echoed Nellie, regarding the
neighboring residence with evident curiosity.
"Yassum," continued Jim, "de Widder Fair-
"Oh! And so she's a widow. Is she nice?"
"Oh, yassum, she's powerful nice."
"Goody! I'm going to run over and see her."
The old negro shook his head. "I wouldn't,
Miss," he said, "ef I wuz in yo' fix."
"Why, what's the matter with me?" she cried,
glancing at her pretty frock. "Don't I look all
"Oh, yassum; but dat aint it. Yo' know dar
aint much visitin' gwine on twixt de Gub'nor an'
dese yere folks. Day's monstrous high-headed.
Dat lady ober dar wouldn't walk on de groun' at
all if dar wuz anywhar else t' walk. She wouldn't,
foh a fac'. Sometimes she jest don' tech de groun*
'cept in de high places."
THE CARPETBAGGER 19
"The stuck-up thing!"
"Well, she needn't put on any airs, I guess. Pa
is the biggest man in this state and he used to be
the best auctioneer in Chicago, too."
"Is dat so? I nebber heered him say: but he's
no man to boast and brag 'bout hisself, anyway."
As they re-entered the house it was clear that
she had given her father a new claim to greatness
in the eyes of the negro.
"Well, how do you like it?" asked the Governor,
with a comprehensive sweep of the arm.
"It's just perfectly elegant," was Nellie's ecstatic
reply, an expression which among boarding-school
girls the world over is accepted as the highest pos-
sible form of praise.
"Make yourself at home," he added. "Jim and
I've got to go down to the state house now for
a while. If you get lonesome you'll find plenty of
books in the library."
"But I don't care for books," she exclaimed, pet-
ulantly. "I had enough of that at school. I'm
going with you."
20 THE CARPETBAGGER
"No; not to-day," said the Governor, laying his
hand upon her bronze head. "I've got some very
important business to attend to and must be alone."
"It can't be so very important," she protested,
"if you can do it alone. I've heard so much about
state houses all my life and I've never seen one.
Are they bigger than boarding-schools? Why not
let me go?"
"Not to-day," he repeated, kindly. "You shall
go down with me in a day or two, when I get my
afifairs in a little better shape, and then I'll shov;
you everything and you may take possession."
She followed him down the hall, clinging to his
"Where did you get that big black man?" she
asked, confidentially, pointing to Jim. "Aren't
you afraid of him?"
"Afraid? Nonsense!" he said. "Jim is my
friend. The best one I have," he added, with a
serious note in his voice. "I'm not afraid of any
man whose blackness is only skin deep. It's the
white man v/ho is black inside that makes me lie
THE CARPETBAGGER 21
Standing at the garden gate she waved farewell
with a dainty handkerchief until the governor and
his companion disappeared down the street and
then returned to the house. For an hour or two
she was kept busy investigating new mysteries
about the big mansion; but at last she grew tired
of exploration and settled down for rest upon the
veranda. The great stone house on the other side
of the garden wall furnished an abundant theme
for speculation and she fell to wondering what its
owner looked like. Was she old? Did she dress in
black? Was she cross and crabbed or proud and
haughty? Curiosity rising dominant she asked her-
self if it might not be possible to catch a glimpse of
the unknown neighbor. At any rate there could
be no harm in seeing the house at closer quarters,
so she strolled down through the garden in that
direction until she found further progress stopped
by a high stone wall which completely shut out all
view of the adjoining grounds. Walking along this
barrier and seeking in vain for a gate or a rift in
the masonry she suddenly was startled by a slight
22 THE CARPETBAGGER
commotion among the branches of a cherry tree
which grew close to the wall, upon the other side,
and, glancing up, saw a boy in the tree top.
And cherries — red cherries — among the green
"Hello!" she eric excitedly. "Are they ripe?"
The commotion among the branches ceased and
a boyish face looked down at her in surprise.
"Some of 'em are," he said. "I was trying to
pick a few."
"Why, up in Chicago the cherry trees are in blos-
"There'll be plenty of 'em next week," said the
youngster, clambering down and swinging easily to
the top of the wall. "They're pretty green now.
Do you live in Chicago?"
"Ah, ha," replied Nellie, nodding her head
affirmatively. "When I'm at home. I'm down
here now visiting Pa. You live over there, I
s'pose," she added, indicating the big stone house
v/hose roof was discernible among the trees. "Is
your mother the high-headed woman?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 23
"She's high-headed with some folks," said the
boy with significant emphasis. "You are the gov-
ernor's daughter, are you?"
"Ah, ha. Come on down."
"Mother wouldn't like it."
"She doesn't let me go over there."
"What are you 'fraid of? I won't hurt you."
"We don't know your folks."
"Well, you'd better."
There was a minute of silence during which the
cherry-picker evidently was debating some weighty
question with himself. "Say," he suddenly re-
marked. "Can your father get me a commission
in the army?"
"You bet he can," was the ready answer. "My
father can get anything."
The boy dropped lightly upon a flower bed in
the governor's yard. "I won't go into the house,"
A RAILROAD MOSTLY SWAMP
The Carpetbag government had begun to totter —
there could be no doubt of that fact. The corrup-
tionists who had long overridden law and order
were fast overreaching themselves and a keen nos-
tril already could scent the coming of danger. The
old party, crushed to the ground, was beginning
to lift its head. It had begun to parade the streets,
beneath the folds of the conqueror's flag. It had
begun to shout for equal rights and to call on the
Constitution. In this there surely was no treason,
but it was dangerous for the dominant power. The
writing on the wall was growing plainer every day.
Willetts saw it and was at no loss to interpret the
"One of these days the streets out there will be
so hot I can't walk on them," he said, as he calmly
surveyed the situation, "but it's always cool enough
in Canada and I know the way there."
THE CARPETBAGGER 25
With the connivance of a few cronies in the legis-
lature he had planned a last desperate assault upon
the treasury of the plundered state. A bill had
been drawn up providing for a grant of 200,000
acres of state lands to a fictitious railway corpora-
tion, existing only on paper. Included in this grant
were some of the most valuable mineral deposits of
the state. It was a gigantic steal and Willetts
hoped to make its consummation the signal for his
second flight from the South.
Only one point gave him serious uneasiness —
the bill must be signed by Governor Crance. While
he had no doubt that the Governor's signature could
easily be obtained, his knowledge of that official
caused him to fear that the cost would be prohib-
itive. He felt the need of a friend at court, not
for influence, but for information, and turned to
Lummers. "He's a two-spot," said the gambler,
"but he may save the trick for us." As for Lum-
mers he was greatly elated by the new relation and
deeply gratified that he was of sufficient importance
to attract the friendly consideration of Mr. Wil-
26 THE CARPETBAGGER
One morning as he was sitting at his desk ex-
amining letters, Jim entered. Lummers looked up
at him, glanced about the room and said: "If Mr.
Willetts calls, show him in at once."
"Yas, sah," Jim replied, bowing.
"Wait a moment," Lummers added, as Jim
turned to go. "If Mr. Willetts doesn't come till
after the Governor gets here, leave him in the re-
ception room and bring in his card. Understand?"
"Yas, sah," Jim replied, turning away. But be-
fore reaching the door he halted, studied a moment
in a negro's heavy way and then turned again to
Lummers. "Mr. Lummers, 'bout how long you
reckon dis yere job gwine t' last?"
Lummers looked up in surprise. "What are you
"I'se talkin' 'bout dis yere 'ministration Job, sah.
I yere 'em say dat — "
"You hear them say v^^hat?" Lummers broke in
Jim pondered and then replied: "W'y, I yere
'em say dat dis wliut dey calls de kyarpetbag guber-
ment kain.'t last much lonrrer."
THE CARPETBAGGER 27
"Well, you don't want to hear anything like
that," said Lummers, shuffling the letters, "and you
don't want to be talking it, either. Do you hear?"
he added looking straight at the negro.
Jim ducked his head. "Yas, sah. O' cose I likes
dis place all right 'nough — you knows dat — but you
also knows dat a sensible man mus' keep his eyes
open in de lookout fur anudder place in case one
slips from under him." He paused, scratching his
head. "Yas, sah. An' ef de arthquake should come
an' fling dis yere guberment in de a'r, you and de
Gub'nor would light on yo' feet all right like a cat,
but whar'd I be?" He grunted and shifted his
weight from one leg to the other. "Huh! I'd hit
de groun' an' flatten out like I been flung ofif'n a
Lummers handed him a number of letters and
with an air of assumed carelessness said: "Stop
your cackling. Drop these in the box."
Jim took the letters and slowly walked out, mood-
ily shaking his head. Lummers lighted a cigar.
"It's in the air/' he mused. "Even that negro sees
28 THE CARPETBAGGER
it. Well, we'll have to hurry things, and when it
comes we'll try to land on our feet. I've been here
going on two years now, and I'm getting enough
of it." He got up and walked about the room. "If
Willetts and I can pull this thing through, the
North will be good enough for me. I don't like
these Southerners anyway — always poking 'round,
looking for somebody to insult 'em. And if the
Governor lets them have too much swing they'll
carry an election against him and — well, reconstruc-
tion's all right enough, but we don't want to recon-
struct too fast. Ah! Come in."
Jim had shown Willetts into the room, and was
standing at the door with a grin on his face.
"Good morning," said Willetts. "Has the old
man got down yet?"
"No, but I think he'll be here- presently. It's time
for him now," he added, glancing at the clock.
"Send the coon away," said Willetts, speaking
in a low tone.
Lummers motioned toward the reception room
and Jim disappeared. "How is it going?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 29
"Oh, fairly," Willetts answered. "Have you
sounded the old man?"
Lummers shook his head. "I've been thinking
it over since I saw you," he said, "and I've come
to the conclusion that you'd better open this deal
"What's the matter? Knees weak?"
"No," said Lummers, "but the fact is, I'm too
close to him. He knows me too well. You set the
ball rolling and I'll try to keep it going."
"Um," Willetts grunted. "You are dead sure
about this, are you? I've worked with him a good
deal, you know, but on nothing very heavy. If I
could get him into a poker game I'd know his
character better. He doesn't always seem to be the
same. Are you sure he won't shy at the cars?"
"Not if there's anything in the cars he wants,"
"How much do you think it will take to fix this
end of it?"
"Well," said Lummers, "the Governor isn't down
here for his health. I've never known a case where
he didn't want all he thought he could p-et."
80 THE CARPETBAGGER
This threw Willetts into a state of reflection.
"That's just the trouble," he said. "And if the old
man gets a glimpse of our hands he'll blow us out
of the pot. And, say, not a word about the ore
deposits. Let him believe, with the rest, that it's
nearly all swamp."
"Yes," said Lummers, "it's all right to let him
believe anything he — There's the Governor,"
he broke ofif, as a door in the private office slammed.
"You'd better not be found here," he added, "come
in after a while. It v/ill look less suspicious. And
remember when you do get at him, no sparring —
straight from the shoulder."
Willetts vanished and Lummers returned to his
desk and was busy with papers when the Governor
"Good morning, good morning," was the old
man's brisk greeting, as he took his accustomed
seat at a flat top desk almost in the center of the
"Good morning. Governor," responded Lum-
mers, striving to give an innocent inflection to his
THE CARPETBAGGER 31
voice. He placed a number of letters and docu-
ments upon the Governor's desk and returned to
the place where he was wont to sit in dull obscurity,
ignored by politicians and overlooked by the aver-
The Governor sat for a time, musing. From the
walls there looked down upon him the portraits of
Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, the fiery Calhoun
and the old Missourian who wrote "Thirty years in
the American Senate." Delicious perfumes floated
in from the neighboring gardens.
He took up a letter. "Ah — um," he said, "was
old man Francis here to see about that pardon for
"Yes, sir," Lunmiers replied, "he called yesterday
after you left."
"Well," added the Governor, reading a letter,
"how much did he say they'd scraped together?"
"He thought he could raise about twenty-two
hundred," Lummers answered.
"Twenty-two, eh?" echoed the Carpetbagger,
shaking his head. "Well, I don't see how that boy
can be innocent for less than five thousand."
32 THE CARPETBAGGER
At that moment a card was brought in. It bore
the name of James Hill, and in pencil were written
the words: "Don't know you, but must see you
for your own good." The man was admitted. He
was dressed in a long black coat, shining with
"Sit down/' said the Governor. "Now," he
added, "come to the point as soon as you can."
"Yes, sir. I am of a type of men "
"I know your type all right. Go ahead."
"I beg your pardon."
"Granted, go on."
"But I must get at it in my own way, sir. I
am of a type which bobs up on certain occasions
and then bobs out of sight forever. You may
never see me again."
The Governor's eyes began to twinkle. "You
alarm me," he said. "It is sad to chop off a pleas-
ant acquaintance so abruptly. But your business?"
"Yes, sir. In my nature there is an abhorrence
"You surprise me," said the Governor. "How
did that happen?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 33
"Born that way. I have called to warn you."
"An assassin, who would take your life,"
"Did you bring him with you?"
*'I am serious, sir. I heard this man swear that
he was going to have your blood."
"Not all of it, I hope."
"He is going to shoot you on sight. Pull down
your curtain. Don't expose yourself at night.
"Much obliged to you," said the Governor.
"Not at all. And now, I have a favor to ask."
The Governor's eyes began to twinkle again.
"I understand that a member has been expelled
from the house. I want his place."
"Hm! What qualifications do you possess?"
"Intelligence and devotion to duty. I would
serve you well. I am an honorable man."
"So I see. You want me to put you in the
house — to order a special election from an out-of-
the-way county and declare you elected. Is that
34 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Well, yes, sir; that is about it."
*'My friend," said the Governor, "I am about as
well acquainted with rascality as the majority of
men. I like the average rascal. But I am afraid
you are a little over-drawn. Get out of here— just
as quick as you can."
"If I go out, sir, I shall leave you to your fate."
"Well, do it. Who is it, Jim?"
"Mr. Willetts, sah."
As Mr. Hill passed out Willetts stared at him,
"Governor," began the lobbyist, "there are
"Yes, I know that; but what is it?"
"There are times when a man ought to be partic-
ular. This is one of them. How did that fellow
manage to get in here? He's the worst man in the
community. He was a deserter from both sides
during the war and was convicted for stealing
"Since the war?"
"What a thief! Of course it's another matter if
he stole it during the war. What's up?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 35
"Governor," said Willetts, "I am interested in a
house bill introduced the other day. It pro-
"Ah, ha!" the Governor exclaimed, reading from
a letter he had just opened. " 'Unless you abdicate
that office and leave the state within a week I will
shoot the top of your head ofif.' The top of my
head. Not the side or the bottom — just the top.
That's generous." He crumpled the letter, threw
it into a waste-paper basket and nodding at his
visitor said: "Go ahead."
Willetts sighed, glanced over at Lummers and
continued: "The bill provides for a right of way
and land grant of about two-hundred thousand
acres — um, mostly swamp — to the Midland railway
The old man glanced up quickly. "What's that?"
he said. "What railroad?"
"Well, the corporation, Governor, as yet has not
been completely organized."
"Um — that's mostly swamp, too, is it?"
Willetts hesitated. The Governor continued to
38 THE CARPETBAGGER
read his letters. ""Well, go ahead," he commandedi
and then, addressed himself to a letter: " 'Will
shoot you on sight.' Signed 'John Pardue'." He
turned to Lummers. "Who's John Pardue?
Didn't we get a letter from him some time ago?"
"I think we did, sir," Lummers answered.
"Well, if John can't shoot any better than he
writes he couldn't hit a prairie set up on edge."
Then, turning to Willetts, he added: "Go on, sir;
Willetts again essayed to explain the scope of the
bill, though now in rather a disappointed way.
"This road," he proceeded, "will be a good thing
for the state in every way. It will build up towns
and serve as a commercial highway for a very rich
section of country "
"Mostly swamp?" the Governor interrupted,
looking up, with droll humor.
The lobbyist wavered. He felt the cold gray
eyes of the Governor boring through him and knew
that equivocation was hopeless. But he made a
THE CARPETBAGGER 37
"Well, yes," he said, ''on the left it is pretty much
swamp. But over here," he added with a motion
of his hand, "you see, it cuts off two himdred miles
of unnecessary river transportation — and, well "
"I see," said the Governor.
"In fact," continued Willetts, with forced im-
pressiveness, "it will be a mighty good thing — for
all of us."
The Governor glanced at him. "Who's 'us'?"
"Well, all of us, you know."
"Yes, I know," the Governor admitted, "but
what part of the 'us' am I?"
This staggered the lobbyist for a moment but he
rallied his faculties. "Financially, Governor," he
said, confidentially, "that word shall be spelled with
a capital YOU."
"Spread your scheme," said the Governor, turn-
ing again to his letters. " 'Has left this county for
the capital'," he proceeded, reading aloud, " 'and I
have cause to believe that he means bodily harm to
you'. Lummers, who is Nat Robey? Ever hear of
38 THE CARPETBAGGER
"I've heard that he is a desperate character, sir,"
said Lummers, turning in his chair.
"Hm!" remarked the Governor. "The Sheriff
of Dixon county says that Mr. Robey is on his way
down here. By the way, isn't he the fellow that
Jim disarmed out there the other day? Jim!" he
"Yas, sah," Jim answered, stepping into the
''You took a gun from a man out there the other
day. Wasn't his name Robey?"
"Who, dat generman wid de yaller ha'r? Naw,
sah, his name was Mr. Crane."
"I thought the yellow-haired fellow was Ruther-
"Naw, sah," said Jim, brightening with the self-
compliment of his own recollection, "Mr. Ruther-
ford wuz de generman whut come wid a thing wid
a fuse in it an' tried ter set it afire in de house."
"All right," said the Governor, waving him back
to his post.
"Governor," cautioned Lummers, "you ought to
be more careful."
THE CARPETBAGGER 39
"You ought not to take such chances, Governor,"
Willetts spoke up.
"Go ahead with your land grant," said the Gov-
ernor, taking up another letter.
Willetts again proceeded: "The bill, as I said,
has been introduced, and after the first reading has
been referred to a committee. I think it will be
reported favorably, but it may require a little — ^at-
tention — on our part."
"Um-yes," said the Governor. "Astonishing,
isn't it, how much hard work is sometimes re-
quired to accomplish a — ^praiseworthy — object?"
Willetts sighed. '1 could wish," said he, "that
you seemed a little more interested."
"Interested!" the Governor exclaimed. "Why,
I am tickled to death with it. Go ahead."
Jim stepped into the room and holding out a
telegram toward Lummers said: "Anudder one
deze yaller letters, sah." Lummers handed the
telegram to the Governor, who tore it open and
read aloud: "Jasper, Hilliard County, April sixth:
Newly appointed sheriff assassinated last night by
40 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Lummers," he said, "order two companies of
militia quartered in the town." Then he addressed
Willetts: "If I understand you this land is for a
railroad — a road, in fact, much needed by our
"Yes, sir," said Willetts, brightening, "one that
will greatly benefit the state."
"Uin," the chief executive grunted, "yes. Has
it occurred to you that on occasions of this sort I
sometimes am the state?"
"Well," Willetts drawled, "not exactly in that
light, but, perhaps — "
The Governor broke in upon him: "How much
will the state be benefited? In that light — how
Willets reflected. "Would the state regard thirty
thousand dollars as suf^cient benefit?" he asked.
The Governor turned to Lummers. "Issue an
order for the arrest of James Strickland, of Marion-
ville, and have him brought to this city." Proceed-
ing to read another letter he remarked for the bene-
fit of Willetts: "When the state is very busy it can
THE CARPETBAGGER 41
scarcely afford to divert its mind into other chan-
nels for so small a sum. To give — er — conscientious
attention, the state must be better paid."
Willetts leaned towards him. "Say fifty thou-
"Ah," exclaimed the executive. "The state's ear
is a little warmer toward that proposition. Say fifty
— ^when the bill is signed. What's been done? Any
"Well, yes, of course there's a little. Represen-
tative Felton says — "
"Felton, eh? He has been trying to get an ap-
pointment for his son-in-law. Leave Felton to
"The only real element of strength brought
against us," added Willetts, "is Wiley Jones."
"Jones," mused the Governor. "Wiley Jones —
yes, of Spencer county."
"Well," said Willetts, "he lives down the river a
short distance from here, but he represents Spencer
"I understand," the old man replied. "Let's see,
42 THE CARPETBAGGER
wasn't his election contested? I sided in his favor
— before all the facts were known, you understand,"
he said with a wink. "Additional evidence might
render it necessary to reopen Mr. Jones' case. You
go to him — yourself — and tell him I want to see
him here right away."
THE ALLIGATOR BOY
Above the door leading to his private office the
Governor had placed a bust of Lincoln and many a
time, in the midst of his threatening letters and the
manifold annoyances that beset him, he would turn
to gaze upon it. Dishonor contemplating the em-
blem of Honesty. At such times even the dull-
minded Lummers could fancy a struggle in the
mind of his master. But the struggle, if at all, was
ever brief. Vice often pays silent homage to vir-
tues it will not emulate.
When Willetts left the room the Governor turned
to the bust, his face serious, a letter crumpled in
his hand. Suddenly he looked at Lummers as if
he felt the intrusion of a stealthy gaze.
"Well, what is it?"
"Nothing, sir," Lummers replied.
"What were you looking at me for?"
44 THE CARPETBAGGER
"I didn't— didn't know I was looking."
"Um, you didn't? Well, see that you know when
you're looking after this."
The young man's humility touched him. "I
didn't mean anything by that, Lummers," he said.
"It was a joke. What do you do with your money,
"I send it home, sir."
"That's right, take care of it. There'll come a
time when it will not be so easy to get. I'm going
to raise your salary."
"I am very much obliged to you, sir."
"For the advice or the increase of salary?"
"For — for both," Lummers stammered.
"All right. But let me tell you, the advice is
He took a paper out of a drawer and began to
read. After a time he put it down and fell into a
deep muse. In the air there was a suggestion of a
change in the season, and his mind flew back to a
time when he worked on a farm in Illinois. He
THE CARPETBAGGER 45
looked at the palm of his hand as if to trace the
reminder of a day of heavy labor. His life had
been hard, a waif bound to an exacting farmer.
When the boys of the South, recently his foemen,
had danced rapturously with the negroes in the
quarter; when, at Christmas time, they had come
home to be worshipped as the heirs of a great baron,
he had gone at daylight to the barn to milk the
cows. How well he remembered the creak of the
frozen door, the farmer's scolding, the cheerless
breakfast! And there above the door were the stern
features of one whose boyhood, like his own, had
been a span of toil and deprivation. "But he came
to save the sons of a down-trodden race," he said
aloud, and Lummers looked up. Just at that mo-
ment Jim was heard, outside.
"Say, hoi' on dar, lady, you kain't go in dar'
lessen you's 'nounced."
"The idea!" came a voice in reply. "Go 'way from
here, you impudent thing!" and then Nellie came
bounding into the room.
"Why, hello! hello!" cried the Governor, bright-
ening. "What are you doing down here?"
46 THE CARPETBAGGER
She ran forward, gave the Governor a hearty kiss
and took a seat opposite him. "Is this chair for
me? I've been here nearly two weeks and you've
promised me every day you'd bring me down to
see the state house and you haven't done it. So
I've just come myself." She reached over and took
up a paper. "What's this?"
The Governor gently took it from her. "Never
"But what is it?" she insisted.
"Something that doesn't concern you. It's a par-
"For a man?" she cried. "What did he do? Kill
"Worse than that," said the Governor, smiling.
"Worse than that? How many did he kill? A
"No, he stole a horse."
"The mean thing! Did he beat the horse?"
"Beat the horse's owner, I guess."
Lummers came forward to place some papers on
the desk. The Governor, glancing at one of them,
THE CARPETBAGGER 4?
asked: "What is Senate bill 147? Oh, I see, a
change in the Bolivar county line. All right." He
signed the paper and handed it back to Lummers,
who, glancing at the visitor, returned to his desk,
leaving the executive with his letters. Several
dingy portraits upon the walls soon became the
objects of Nellie's inquisitive regard. "Why don't
you have some prettier pictures here?" she asked.
"Don't blame me for those things," was the reply.
"They were here before I came."
"But who are they?" she insisted.
"Where are they now?"
"I don't know — they're dead."
"What! All of 'em dead?"
"Very — that's why they are statesmen. If they
were alive, they'd be politicians."
There was a brief interval of silence and then the
young woman broke in ecstatically, "Oh, I've been
having the loveliest time down here!" she cried.
"I've had more fun here in two weeks than I ever
could have in that old Chicago school. But I've
48 THE CARPETBAGGER
met some of the funniest folks. Aren't they odd?
One old woman laughed at me because I said you
used to be the best auctioneer in Chicago. But you
were, weren't you?"
"I guess that's so," said the Governor, with a
"But I don't like the girls very well," Nellie went
on, "And stuck up! One of them said you stole
this office." She glanced about the room. "You
didn't, did you?"
"Nonsense," said the Governor, laughing.
"But how did you get it?"
"Well," said the Governor, his eyes twinkling,
"the other fellow moved out and I moved in."
"They call you a 'carpetbagger'," she continued,
with a suspicious quiver in her voice. "They say
you are 'only a carpetbag governor.' Is that any-
thing so — so — awfully bad?"
He wheeled about in his chair and looked full
upon her. There was a hard, stern look in his face
and his hands opened and closed nervously. She
was the one object on earth whom he worshipped;
he could have throttled anyone who would cause
her pain. For the first time the unpleasant truth .
was brought home to him that his own deeds and
misdeeds, his reputation, would descend as a herit-
age to his daughter.
"Don't mind them," he said, huskily, as he arose
to his feet and strode angrily up and down the
room. "Don't mind anything they say. They don't
like us very well down here. You are merely visit-
ing the plundered camps of the enemy, my dear;
"Who plundered them?" she inquired, innocently.
The Governor winced. "The fortunes and mis-
fortunes of war,' he said. "Don't you bother your
pretty head about me. And don't you let them
worry you, either," he added, his resentment rising,
"If they tell you I am an interloper here, say to
them that the supreme power of this nation has
set me here and placed in my hands the authority
of a czar. If they say that the only wealth I brought
to the state of Mississippi was an empty carpetbag
tell them that I came here with a full cartridge-
50 THE CARPETBAGGER
The Governor's tall form, swayed by emotion,
was drawn up to its full height. His eyes were
blazing. In his voice there was the defiant intona-
tion of a wounded animal at bay. A moment later
he sank into his chair, turned to his desk and picked
up a letter.
"Don't mind them," he said calmly.
"I won't," replied Nellie, with a toss of her curls.
"Only this morning I told Roy you'd make it
pretty hot for somebody if you ever heard — "
"Roy? Who's Roy?"
"Oh, I forgot. You don't know Roy, do you?
Well, he's awfully nice. He lives in that big stone
house just across the wall from us."
"Doesn't the Widow Fairburn live there?"
"Ah, ha. He's her son. Don't you know her?"
"Well, yes — when I see her. The fact is, you
know, I've been so busy since I came here that
I haven't had very much time for society."
"Well, he's awfully brave. He wants to be a cap-
tain in the army and go out West to fight Indians.
That's one of the reasons I'm down here now."
"Why? Because he wants to fight Indians?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 51
"No, because he wants to be a Captain. I told
him you'd get it for him,"
"Get it for him!" exclaimed the governor with a
smile. "Why, he'd have to go through West Point
"Oh," she said, "he wouldn't care about that.
He'd just let that part of it go."
"Ah! He'd be willing to waive West Point,
would he? That's generous."
"Ah, ha," she cried, nodding her head. "Oh,
come! Get it for him. I told him you would. And
really, I'm under the greatest obligations to him."
"What! So soon?" exclaimed the Governor.
"Soon! Why, it isn't so soon. He's been awfully
kind to me. And he gave me just the loveliest
alligator you ever saw. So long." She put her
fingers on her arm to measure the length of the
**Gave you a what?"
"Ah, ha," she rattled on, "and it's just the sweet-
est thing. You ought to see how cute he shuts his
"Where is he now?"
62 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Out there," she answered, pointing toward the
"Jim," the Governor called, "bring in that alli-
"Oh, no," Nellie cried. "It's Roy."
"Well, Where's the alligator? I'm interested in
"He's up in your room, with the cat and the
parrot and Bulger," meaning by the latter as ugly
a bull-dog as ever sniffed about the portals of a
*'In my room, eh? Any room up there for me?"
Nellie laughed. "Well, you'll have to take your
"Um! That's what I've been doing ever since
I came here."
"But really," the girl continiied, returning to her
benefactor, "he's been ever so kind to me. And
you ought to see him eat flies!" she cried, with
"What! The boy?"
"No— the alligator."
THE CARPETBAGGER 53
"Oh 1 And the boy is out there? Have him come
"He can't come in. The black man won't let
"And he's going to be an Indian fighter, too?"
"Well," she pouted, "Indians are different."
"Are they? We'll see. Jim," he called, "show
in that young Indian fighter."
Roy appeared, gorgeous in a uniform that looked
as if it had been made for the drum major of a
country brass band.
"Come in, Roy," the girl cried. "It's all right!"
The Governor looked at him in astonishment.
"Um! Good morning. Bub," he said, with as-
sumed gravity. "Are you the alligator boy?"
The young fellow bristled up. "No, sir; I'm not
an alligator boy. I'm a gentleman and a soldier."
"There!" exclaimed the girl, clapping her hands.
"Where's your command?" the Governor asked.
*'Well, I haven't got one — yet," the boy replied.
"Hm!" ejaculated the Governor, quizzically in-
specting the youngster's nondescript clothing.
54 THE CARPETBAGGER
"That's fortunate. Where did you get that uni-
"This is something I planned myself," was the
proud reply. "Do you think it's all right, sir?"
The Governor laughed. "Well, I should say so.
But what is it, anyway? What does it mean?"
After a moment of bashful hesitancy, the young
man again found his voice. "It means just this,"
he said. "Every fellow in this town who amounts
to shucks went into the army a private and came
out a colonel or a lieutenant or a major or some-
thing. They wouldn't let me go. I was too young.
So I had to stay at home and look after mother,
and now when everyone is talking about Bull Run
and Shiloh and Manassas Junction and Gettysburg,
where do I come in? Do you think I'm going
to be a dummy right through life just because
father and mother didn't begin housekeeping early
enough? I want to fight. I want a chance to show
the stuff I am made of. I want a commission in the
army. Nellie says you will get me one. Will you?"
The Governor arose. "I salute you, sir," he said.
THE CARPETBAGGER 55
"But I don't know just how I should address you.
Your epaulettes tell me you are a general; your
chevrons say you are a sergeant; your buttons that
you are a colonel; your sash — I am not on to — and
your braid says you are a drum major. We'll have
to compromise this some way, won't we — eh —
The Governor gave a military salute, which Roy
"Is he a captain now?" inquired Nellie. "Oh,
goody! Come on, Roy!"
"Wait! "exclaimed the old Carpetbagger. "My
daughter tells me you have been very kind to her.
I want to thank you. She also informs me that
you have an ambition to slaughter Indians."
"Yes, sir; if you please,"
"Why? Indians ever do you any harm?"
"N — no, sir — never had a chance. Would if they
Lummers stepped forward and placed another
paper on the Governor's desk. "Here's a matter,"
said he, "that ought to be looked into to-day. It's
up for passage to-morrow."
56 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Yes; all right," and then turning to Nellie, he
added: "I'm afraid I'll not have time to show you
over the state house to-day. But some other
time — "
''Let me do it!" Roy exclaimed. "I know every
inch of it."
"Oh, will you?" cried Nellie, clapping her hands.
The Governor saluted him. "Thank you — Cap-
Nellie seized Roy's hand and they scampered oflf,
the Governor looking after them with a smile. Call-
ing Jim and motioning toward the private ofiEice,
he said: "Bring in the heavy artillery."
"Yas, sah," the negro replied, with a chuckle,
hastening out as if the execution of the command
required the utmost speed. The Governor resumed
the work of examining his papers. "More trouble,"
he mused. "Coming up like dandelions after a
Jim entered with a demijohn and a glass. "Dis
yere is a mighty powerful dockyment," he said.
"What's that?" the Governor demanded. "How
do you know?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 57
"I ain't sayin' nuthin', sah."
"Well, see that you don't."
"Dat's whut I's doin', sah, jest ez fas' ez I kin —
dat's whut Fs yere fur."
The Governor swung the demijohn over his
shoulder and poured out a drink. Holding up the
glass he looked at it for a time. "Lummers," he
said, "leave it alone. It's as bright as the sunshine
in the corn-fields of old Illinois. But it's a treacher-
ous mixture — the laughter of the fool, the sigh of
the philosopher and the tear of woman."
Jim stepped forward and handed him a card. He
glanced at the name, put the demijohn on the floor
and the glass of whisky, untasted, on the desk.
"Lucy Linford — Linford," he repeated, still looking
at the card. "Sounds as if she might have just
stepped out of a dime novel — yellow back, maybe."
"I dunno, sah," said Jim. "She ain't turned
"Show the lady in."
OLD Steve's missionary
There was barely time enough to hide the glass
of whiskey beneath the desk and to jam the demi-
john into a wastebasket, covering it with paper, be-
fore a tall young woman was ushered into the room.
She came with a swish, a smile and a dash — a dainty
bit of newest fashion, graceful, bright and hand-
The Governor bowed. "Won't you be seated,
Miss?" he said, motioning to a chair. Then, as if
afraid he had made a mistake, he added, looking
again at the card, "Or Mrs.?"
"Thank you," the caller replied, seating herself.
"Either one — ^just as you please."
The old Carpetbagger gave her a quick, penetrat-
ing glance. Then he looked at Lummers signifi-
cantly. "Very well," he said dryly. "If there's no
difference we'll make it 'Miss'."
THE CARPETBAGGER 59
She smiled and handed him a letter. "Ah," he
exclaimed, reading, " 'Stephen Parker.' What's old
Steve doing now? Oh, I see, president of the Great
Western Book Company. Yes. I've known old
Steve a good many years — used to run a second-
hand book store in Cincinnati; dealt largely in dam-
aged literature. I auctioned off a car-load of his
stuff once. We used to sock literature into Chi-
cago in job lots in those days — baled it and sold
it throughout the West by the ton."
She smiled at him. "As you see, Mr. Parker is
now in the publishing business."
"Um, yes. Well, Steve always was a hustler."
"School books," she added.
"Ah, are you selling school-books?"
"Oh, no; but I'm here on a similar mission."
"Ah, ha. Well, this ought to be a pretty good
"Yes," she admitted, throwing off a grace, which
the Governor caught with humorous gallantry. "I
understand," she went on, " that your legislature is
about to pass a public school law, which provides
60 THE CARPETBAGGER
for the building of school houses in all parts of the
state." She paused to throw off a few more graces.
"And of course, school houses without school
books, you know, would be a foolish expenditure."
"Hm!" ejaculated the Governor, the true light
beginning to break upon him. "And your mission-
ary scheme is — "
"Books. Our firm is regarded as the leader in all
the advanced educational movements of the day.
We want to join hands with the state of Mississippi
and, under this law, provide all the text books
needed to carry forward this grand reform move-
"At what price?"
"Well, we have felt that if we were given the
exclusive right to furnish text books for all the
schools of this state for, say five years, perhaps
some — arrangement — could be made by which it
would not be absolutely necessary to mention prices
in the law at all."
"Who would fix the prices?"
"Oh, that needn't stand in the way. We could
THE CARPETBAGGER 61
The Governor looked at her curiously. "We?"
*'Oh, the company. I see. The seller could fix
She slightly inclined her head. "Of course we
expect to pay for the right to — "
"You merely want to save the consumer all
trouble and worry about what he shall pay."
The caller laughed. Sitting as she was in a light
now unmistakably true the Governor tapped a bell
upon his desk. The negro appeared. "Jim," he
said, "another glass." Then he grabbed the demi-
john out of the basket and took his glass of whisky
from its concealment. "Even missionaries," he
continued, "are sometimes not averse to this sort
of spiritual revival."
"Oh, Governor," the woman protested, "I never
"Why, of course not, but — "
"Well, just a little, then— just the least bit."
He poured out a drink that would have jolted a
62 THE CARPETBAGGER
deck-hand, looking at her with a quizzical smile.
She tossed off the liquor without a ruffle in her
countenance. The Governor, after a moment of
surprise at her calm ability to swallow the heroic
draught, followed her example, and then asked:
"Got a sample?"
"Oh, no more for me," she protested.
"I mean have you got a sample of your books?"
"Oh, yes," she replied, handing him a volume.
"Here is our fifth reader." He took the book and
began to examine it. "You observe," she went on,
"that it is splendidly bound. The type is large and
clear. The paper is high-class, and the book is
well-made, substantial, and — "
"That's bad/' the Governor broke in. "For the
publishers, of course. Don't wear out soon enough,
Old Steve's agent laughed. The Governor con-
tinued to examine the book, turning the leaves as
if looking for something. "Ah," he exclaimed, "but
Where's 'Rienzi's Address to the Romans'? This
isn't like my old book. Where is Tt was Saturday
THE CARPETBAGGER 63
night and the widow of the pine cottage sat by
her blazing faggots with her five chattering children
at her side'? Remember that? What's become of
that touching inquiry, 'What is that, mother? The
lark, my child'? What have you done with 'It
snows! cries the school-boy'? Where's 'He never
smiled again'? Remember 'The bark that held
the Prince went down'? Where's that?"
This was a criticism which the agent had not
expected, though it was only the natural fault-find-
ing of a man who had studied old McGufifey. But
no great strain had been put upon her resources,
so she smiled as she replied: "If you examine a
little closer you will find other selections more
modern, more advanced, more beautiful."
"More beautiful!" the Governor exclaimed.
"What could be more beautiful than 'We must edu-
cate, we must educate or we must perish'?"
"That's our platform precisely," she cried. "You
have struck the vital issue. Only you take a senti-
mental view of education; we look at the matter in
a more — practical — light."
64 THE CARPETBAGGER
The Governor was about to reply when Jim
stepped forward and handed him a card. He
glanced at it, seemed surprised, and then said:
"Show the lady in." He swept the demijohn and
glasses from the desk, a fact which Miss Linford
did not fail to heed, and turned to meet a tall,
attractive woman dressed in black — a woman with
the grace of the Old South in her walk.
"The Governor, I presume," said the lady,
*'Mrs. Fairburn," the Governor returned, with a
show of courtesy that was not lost upon the book
agent. "We have been neighbors for some time, I
believe." Mrs. Fairburn slightly inclined her head.
"Won't you be seated?"
"Thank you," she said, "I prefer to stand. Gov-
ernor, a company of your militia has been en-
camped upon my plantation at Gum Springs since
early in February. May I ask why those soldiers
"Gum Springs," echoed the Governor. "Lum-
mers, who is at Gum Springs?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 65
"Captain Collins, sir, with Company H."
"Um — yes. What's he doing there?"
"Nothing, sir, at present."
"Pardon me," interrupted Mrs. Fairburn, with a
tinge of irony in her voice, "but couldn't Captain
Collins do that just as well somewhere else for
There was something in her demeanor which
commanded respect and challenged admiration.
The Governor mentally compared the two women
before him. "He shall be given a chance to try.
Madam," he said, "if you desire it."
The caller bowed. "Thank you, not only for
myself, but also in behalf of my servants, my fruits
and my fowls. Peace has its terrors as well as
"I'm sorry if they have bothered you," spoke
up the executive, "but I don't blame them. For-
aging is as much a part of the soldier's trade as
"But the fighting is ended. Is the foraging to
be made perpetual?"
56 THE CARPETBAGGER
A shadow darkened the old man's face. "Send
the soldiers away, Lummers," he said.
"Anywhere — send them away."
"A few nights ago," continued Mrs. Fairburn,
^'during a drunken carousal, they burned the old
school house at Gum Springs — a landmark dear to
every one in that neighborhood. To replace it, of
course, would be impossible; but cannot the state
provide a new building, however small, so that the
children there may receive instruction?"
Miss Linford had been an attentive listener.
"That's right. Governor," she interposed. "It is
clearly the duty of the state to replace that school
The Governor gave her a knowing look. "Um,
yes," he said, sarcastically, "the- more school houses
the more books." Then he turned to Mrs. Fair-
burn. "That matter. Madam, shall be attended to
at once. I think the state can find five thousand
dollars for such use."
"I thank you, sir," said Mrs. Fairburn.
THE CARPETBAGGER 67
"Oh, not at all." Stepping aside he said in an
undertone to Lummers, "Give the contract to
Wilson and see that there's an extra five thousand
in it for me."
"And there's another matter," Mrs. Fairburn
continued. "But I'm afraid that I shall tax your
patience." She stopped; the Governor bowed and,
thus encouraged, she proceeded: "A young man
named Francis has been sent to the penitentiary
from Gum Springs, charged with manslaughter.
There seems no doubt that he was set upon by
some drunken soldiers and acted clearly in self-
defense. He has had no opportunity to employ
counsel, but has been hurried to prison. His fam-
ily declares that he has not had a fair trial. Friends
are circulating a petition for his pardon. When it
reaches you may I ask that you give the matter your
careful attention? I know that boy, Governor, and
he is a fine, manly young fellow."
"I am already looking into that matter. Madam,"
he said slowly, after a moment's hesitation. He
thought of the report made by Lummers — that old
00 THE CARPETBAGGER
man Francis had scraped together but twenty-two
hundred dollars to purchase his son's release. He
was about to say something additional when Jim
entered and announced the arrival of Wiley Jones.
"Ah, all right," cried the Governor, evidently
relieved by the interruption, "Show him into my
private room. Ladies, you'll have to excuse me."
"My mission is ended," said Mrs. Fairburn, "and
I'll not trespass longer upon your time. Good
"Good morning. Madam." He glanced at Miss
Linford and hurried into his private office. The
book agent arose hastily. "Just a moment, please."
Mrs. Fairburn, at the door, turned about. "I am
always interested in those who are alive to edu-
cational needs," the lobbyist , continued, handing
Mrs. Fairburn a card. "I am in that line myself;
perhaps we might be mutually helpful in this di-
rection." The agent inclined her head toward the
Mrs. Fairburn straightened up with dignity. "I
do not understand you," she said.
THE CARPETBAGGER 69
"Well, it occurs to me that I might make it worth
your while if you would push my scheme a little."
Mrs. Fairburn recoiled as if stung. She flashed
one look of indignation at the book agent and ex-
tended the card, which she still held in her hand.
Miss Linford made no attempt to take it; a second
later it fluttered to the floor and the woman in
black was gone.
THE OLD man's SWEAT-BOX
Governor Crance's private ofifice was not large;
in fact, its dimensions were rather cramped. Legis-
lators and lobbyists who oftenest were summoned
there for discipline commonly referred to it as "the
old man's sweat-box." Once inside that tomb-
like inclosure the visitor usually found himself face
to face with Trouble, and there was no room for
shifty maneuvering or evasion. It was a place for
rapid-fire business at close quarters.
Wiley Jones had been there before and knew
what to expect. He was a political degenerate, a
man always looking for the winning side, a schemer
with all the predatory instincts of the cat and the
moral courage of the hyena. He was gaunt,
grizzled, sharp-eyed and squeaky of voice, utterly
without principle, but with a self-consciousness
which he often mistook for virtue. Largely through
THE CARPETBAGGER 71
the Governor's influence he had become a quasi-
leader in the house of representatives and this, in
his own eyes, had greatly increased his importance.
When the Governor entered, he got up with a
show of poHteness; but immediately dropped back
upon the chair. He knew that the Carpetbagger
was gradually losing power and that so high-handed
a career could not last long in America. This fact
made him impudent and he boldly summoned de-
fiance to his aid.
"Willetts said you wanted to see me," he
snarled, giving the chief executive a sharp look.
"For just about one minute," replied the Gov-
ernor, taking the only other chair in the room.
"You are opposed to that Midland Railway bill, I
"Well, I— that is—"
"Are you against it?"
"I can't say that I am in favor of it."
"I don't like it."
"What are your reasons?"
72 THE CARPETBAGGER
**WelI, I don't think it would be a good thing
for the state."
"Don't you?" said the Governor, calmly. "I do."
"We can't afford to go too far in these matters —
just at this time. The people have certain rights
which must — "
"Who made you the special guardian of the rights
of the people? What do you know about the wel-
fare of the state?"
"My duty, sir, as a legislator, requires me to — "
"It doesn't require you to argue with me at all.
You are not here for that purpose."
"Well, will you please tell me why I am here?"
"Yes — you are here to do as I tell you."
"Isn't that rather — rather peremptory, Govern-
"I hope so. Now, look here. I am interested in
that bill. I want it put through; and it's going
through. But I don't propose to talk about that.
There is another matter which is much more inter-
esting to you. Some of the people down in Spencer
county are raising a howl about the manner of your
THE CARPETBAGGER 73
election. Perhaps you haven't heard of that. I
beHeve there was some little irregularity about it,
wasn't there? If I remember correctly you weren't
seated in exactly the regular order, were you? I
have been thinking, in view of the protests which
have been coming in, that it might be as well to
reopen the case. What do you think?"
The legislator shifted uneasily in his chair.
*'The people, you know, have certain rights which
must be respected," the Governor added.
Mr. Jones wiped the perspiration from his fore-
"If they demand this of me," insinuated the Grov-
ernor, "what can I do?"
The leader of the house glanced nervously about
the room as if seeking in vain an avenue of escape.
Then he sprang to his feet.
"You are trying to browbeat me!" he shouted.
"Nonsense," remarked the Carpetbagger, quietly.
"Do you think I would waste time like that? As
a legislator there are certain duties which you owe
the people; I understand that, of course. And as a
74 THE CARPETBAGGER
public official there are certain duties which I owe
them. That's all there is of it. It's very simple.
If they show me that you were not legally elected,
or that you were irregularly seated, I shall have to
throw you out and declare your seat vacant. What
else can I do?"
"The house won't stand it, sir!"
"If you think it won't don't bet your hope of
salvation on that proposition."
"It might have done so once; but it won't now.
The situation has changed. This high-handed busi-
ness will be tolerated no longer. Washington
knows what you are doing and the Federal govern-
ment will — "
The Governor interrupted him with a laugh. "I
get news from Washington, myself, occasionally,"
he said. "By the way," he added, "I'd like to ask
you a question. Have you got the idea into your
head that you are an honest man? Discard that-
fallacy. Throw it away. It isn't in you to be
honest. You can change the construction of many
things; but it isn't easy to alter the moral makeup
THE CARPETBAGGER 75
of a bad man. An honest man may depart from the
original plan and afterward return to it; but if the
foundation itself is rotten you can't build a safe
superstructure over it, no matter how you change
"This is outrageous."
"Maybe; but it's true. If I thought you had an
honest motive in opposing that bill — or in opposing
any other bill — I might hesitate to influence you.
But you haven't. You don't know the meaning of
"You are insulting, sir."
"That depends. It's a pretty hard matter to insult
a thief, Mr. Jones." He looked straight at the law-
maker and smiled to see him wince. "Sit down,"
he commanded. "The fellow they have picked out
for your place would grace it, I think. He is bright,
shrewd and active — quick to grasp a point. It
wouldn't take a minute for him to see the great
benefits of such a measure as the Midland bill. And,
above all, he is loyal to his friends. That's a pretty
good trait in a legislator — honor, you know, even
76 THE CARPETBAGGER
He paused and lighted a cigar. There was a
brief period of silence which was broken by Jones.
"Governor," he said, in a whining falsetto, "I've
never been disloyal — never. But we're all of us
walking over a volcano here and we can't be too
careful. The people are roused. They are rallying
around Reynolds and unless something is done to
stem the tide that is setting in against us, they'll
swamp us at the polls."
"My friend," drily remarked the Governor, as he
blew a cloud of tobacco smoke toward the ceiling,
*'it takes two things to make a vote effective. First,
it must be cast. Second, it must be counted. I'm
not afraid of a high tide."
He arose and walked slowly up and down the
room leaving the lawmaker to his own reflections.
"As the leader of the house," began the latter, "I
must — "
The Governor turned on his heel. "As the leader
of the house," he interrupted, "you must be pretty
careful to know just what you are leading. Look
behind you once in a while. If you don't some-
body may cut the string and let you walk on alone."
THE CARPETBAGGER 77
The Carpetbagger resumed his walk. "DeHght-
ful weather we're having, isn't it?" he drawled, with
significant emphasis. "I suppose it makes you feel
like getting out of the house."
Mr. Jones arose. "No," he said, extending his
bony hand; "I never have spring fever."
The Governor put his hands behind him.
"See Willetts," he said.
WHO DOES THE COUNTING?
"It looks as if our friend, the enemy, were going
to have a pretty big convention, doesn't it?" re-
marked Governor Crance, one morning, a couple of
weeks later, his question having in it more of a con-
clusion than an interrogation.
*'Yes, sir," responded Lummers, as he placed a
pile of letters before the chief executive. "The
Democrats have been pouring into town ever since
last niglit and to-day they size up more like a mob
than anything else."
"Um — Where's Willetts?"
"I haven't seen him this morning, sir."
"Look him up. Find him. Tell him to keep in
touch with those fellows to-day and see what's
"Yes, sir." Lummers seized his hat and started
for the door.
THE CARPETBAGGER 79
"Tell him I want to see him if anything turns up,"
continued the Governor. "Have him report to me."
During the afternoon, the Carpetbagger remained
in the seclusion of his office, apparently unmoved
by the political excitement outside which kept the
streets congested. From time to time he heard the
sounds of fife and drum and the cheering of the
multitudes. Once, a band of marchers, as if to bid
open defiance to the Carpetbag regime, halted be-
neath his window and gave three cheers for "hon-
esty and home rule."
He smiled. "Not just yet," he soliloquized. "But
I don't blame 'em. If I lived down here I'd be out
there, too. Chicago's always been good enough
The school-book lobbyist called; but she found
scant courtesy. "You're in too much of a hurry,"
he said. "I understand they are making a new
Governor here in town to-day. Maybe you'll have
to do business with him. Better wait and see."
Nellie and Roy came romping in — a ray of sun-
shine at the close of a murky day. "Has my com-
80 THE CARPETBAGGER
mission got here yet?" inquired the youngster, his
face glowing with enthusiasm.
"Eh? How's that?" asked the Governor. "Oh—
from Washington. I remember. No; not quite."
A moment later, Willetts, unannounced, bolted
into the room. His face, usually pale and inex-
pressive, was flushed with excitement. Before he
could say a word the old man stopped him with a
"Miss Linford," he said, "we'll have to take up
your matter some other time. Good afternoon.
Captain Fairburn, will you cover the retreat and see
that my daughter reaches home in safety."
Roy saluted awkwardly and offered his arm to
Nellie. As their footsteps died away the Carpet-
bagger turned to Willetts. "Sit down," he com-
"Governor, this thing means mischief," began
the ex-gambler. "It's all very well for us to ignore
the convention and call them kickers and sore-
heads, and ridicule their claims of reform; but I
tell you that convention to-day has been red-hot
from the start, and the people are behind it."
THE CARPETBAGGER 81
"That's all right," repHed the Governor, coolly.
"Who's in front of it?"
"Reynolds — and if you don't look out he'll run
avv-ay with us. I know these people — I've lived
"Well, I guess Reynolds is the best they could
"He's the most popular man in the state. He
can poll more votes than any man in Mississippi.
Don't mistake that."
Major Reynolds had not sought the nomination,
the honor having been forced upon him, and now
the news was spreading throughout the city. He
was the son of old John Reynolds, a veteran of the
Mexican war, an old aristocrat who had been in
Congress and who was still one of the largest land-
owners in the state. The Major had been a gallant
soldier in the Confederate army. His kindness and
courtesy, his generosity and friendliness made him
a favorite among the common people. In a piece of
limping verse a sentimentalist had called him the
"flower of chivalry." While Willetts and the Gov-
82 THE CARPETBAGGER
ernor were still discussing the situation, they heard
the Major's voice in the ante-room. "Here!" he
commanded, speaking to Jim, "take my card to the
"Reynolds!" cried Willetts, springing to his feet.
"Look out now. Take care of yourself."
The Governor lighted a cigar. "He's only one
man," he said. Jim handed him a card. "Show
"Only one man," said Willetts, with his eye on
the door, "but he's a hair-trigger man. No monkey-
business, now. He won't stand it."
The Major stepped into the room, halted and
bowed stiffly. "Governor Crance?"
"How are you. Major?" was the Governor's
hearty greeting. "Sit down. How's everything,
out your way?"
The Major started at this familiarity. "Governor
Crance, my party has honored me with a nomina-
tion for Governor, and pursuing a custom time-
honored among our people, I have called, sir, to
announce my candidacy in opposition to yourself."
"Oh, that's all right. Sit down."
THE CARPETBAGGER 83
"And to demand, sir," the Major continued, "that
you meet me on the stump, where you shall have full
opportunity to defend yourself against the charges
with which I shall confront you."
''Oh, I don't think that will be necessary at all,"
the Governor drawled. "J^^t turn the cat loose
whenever you get ready."
The Major began to swell with indignation. "It
may please you, sir, to indulge in vulgar flippancy
at a time like this, but it does not meet the issue."
"Meeting an issue is all right. Major; but what's
the use in breaking your neck trying to overtake
"We charge you, sir, with most damnable corrup-
tion in office. You have plundered and pillaged this
stricken state, intrusted to your keeping. You have
oppressed our people. You have ruled without
justice and without mercy. And against this rec-
ord, sir, you must defend yourself."
The Governor smiled. ''If I'm that sort of a
fellow, why should you want to meet me anywhere?
Even on the stump?"
84 THE CARPETBAGGER
"But I will meet you, sir, to wrest your stifling
clutch from the throat of this prostrate common-
"Good!" exclaimed the Governor. "You'd have
made a great auctioneer. It wouldn't be safe,
though, for me to meet you on the stump — I can
see that. We might get excited and I probably
would forget myself and auction you off. Why,
I'd trot you up and down in front of the people a
few times and knock you down to the highest
bidder. Have a cigar?"
The Major, livid with anger, snatched the prof-
fered cigar, broke it in two and throwing it upon
the floor, trampled upon the pieces. Then, brush-
ing his hands together, he said with evident effort:
"Sir, I shall not be diverted from my purpose by
any personal indignity which you may see fit to
inflict upon me. This issue is one which transcends
personal considerations, and I do not forget that a
sacred trust has been placed in my stewardship.
But, sir, I warn you that the day of settlement is
at hand. You may not meet me on the stump; but
THE CARPETBAGGER 85
you must face the outraged people of this sovereign
commonwealth at the polls. And the people do
The Governor had seated himself on a corner of
his desk. He looked up with a smile.
"Do they?" he asked, innocently. "Who does
THE GOVERNOR WIPES OUT A BLOT
Throughout the entire state there was a boom-
ing as of cannon. When Willetts first heard the
uproar in the Httle capital city he rushed to the
pubHc square, half expecting to find it besieged by
the enemy with field pieces. But, when he learned
that the people were merely firing anvils in honor
of the Major's nomination and knew that all the
commotion was caused by the blacksmith's instru-
ment of toil, he skulked back to his quiet scheming
with the legislators. He argued, and with good
reason, too, that there was no cause for alarm.
The Governor's last words to Major Reynolds had
settled the election; it could make no difference how
strong a vote the Democrats might poll.
Every night there were speeches in the streets,
in halls and in vacant warehouses. The ante-bel-
lum orator had crept forth from his seclusion and
THE CARPETBAGGER 81
now broke his political silence to talk again of the
"constitution" and the ''rights of free-born Ameri-
can citizens." Old men, who long ago had given
up all hope, acknowledged that the country might
yet be saved. Ministers preached politics from the
pulpit. In their arguments before juries the lawyers
spoke of "Reynolds and freedom." A candidate for
the legislature went about wearing a red ribbon
with the words — "Who does the Counting?" —
stamped upon it.
The Carpetbaggers went through the pretense of
a vigorous campaign, though they knew that it was
unnecessary, since the result lay with the returning
board, appointed by the Governor. Every member
of the legislature was a candidate for re-election.
Few of them had ever visited the communities
which they nominally represented. Wiley Jones
had come back into the fold. It was known that
the railway land-grant bill would pass at the proper
time, upon the completion of financial arrangements
in the East.
One day, while the Governor sat alone, in his
88 THE CARPETBAGGER
private office, there came a bird-like tapping upon
the door. He arose with a frown, but his face
brightened when he opened the door. NelHe stood
there, as fresh as the dew on the magnoHa bloom.
"Why! Come in, little one," he said; "come in."
"Are you glad to see me?"
"I'm always glad to see you. Sit down here.
What have you been doing to-day? Making
speeches for me?"
He looked at her tenderly — a pure bud in a
thicket of briars, this beautiful image of a face
gone from the world, the living replica of a country
girl whom he had wooed and won long years ago
among the flowers of the prairie.
"Yes, sir, I'm always making speeches for you."
"Um, I guess you are the strongest speech that
could be made."
She was silent for a time and her face was
thoughtful. So serious a look was new for her and
the Governor asked if anything had gone wrong.
She shook her head in denial. The Governor at-
tempted to joke with her. She got up and put her
arms about his neck.
THE CARPETBAGGER 89
"Why do they say such awful things about you?"
she asked, with an unwonted quiver in her voice.
"Do — do they?" His face darkened.
"Yes, even the girls. They say — they say yon
are a thief. And how can they do that when you are
so good and kind to everybody? You couldn't do
anything wrong, could you?" Her arms were tight
about his neck and her face was warm and soft
against his cheek, a cheek beaten by so many
stornis. "Could you?"
He made an inarticulate sound. He tried to
laugh, but his voice degenerated into a gasp. He
strove to harden his eye, but it was soft. "You
mustn't pay any attention to what you hear, little
one," he said.
"Oh, but I can't help it! If you don't pay any
attention to what you hear, what can you pay any
attention to? It wouldn't be so bad for a little
minute, but it's — all the time. Mrs. Fairburn
"Eh? What about her?"
"She's awfully good to me, and she — "
"What did she say?"
90 THE CARPETBAGGER
"I don't understand her at all. I was over there
this morning, and she said I was 'one of the sweet-
est little things she ever saw.' Then she put her
arms around me and said, 'What a pity! What a
pity!' What did she mean?"
The Governor gently took her arms from about
his neck — they were suffocating him. He walked
m.echanically about the room, halting at the window
to look out upon the flowers.
"What did she mean?" the girl asked again.
The old soldier turned about, master of himself.
There was infinite tenderness in his heart, but a lie
was on his lips. "It was her mother instinct," — he
said — "A pity, that you were motherless."
Jim came in with a card. It bore the name "Rev,
Jacob Williams." The Governor glanced at it and
hesitated. "Well," he finally said, "let him come
An old man entered the room. One glance of the
Governor's shrewd eye established his honesty.
"Sit down, Mr. Williams. What can I do for
THE CARPETBAGGER 91
"You can avenge a great wrong," the old man
"What is it?"
"It involves the telling of a brief story, sir. But
it shall be very brief. Not far from here there is
a gambling house, and — "
"They are all over town," the Governor inter-
"I know it, sir; but it is of this especial one at
103 Mason Street, that I am here to speak. Into
this house, for a long time, there has gone almost
daily an old man to play what they call 'roulette.'
He has always lost. Nearly every time he has
stayed till a little boj- came to lead him away.
It was a pitiful sight. It was a joke among
the wretches, who used to say: 'He'll stay till
his policeman comes.' Yesterday he began to
win. He had little money at the start, but
soon ran the amount up to seventy-five dol-
lars. Then, to the surprise of every one, he
quit and demanded the cash he had won. They
gave it to him, of course, but were loth to see him
92 THE CARPETBAGGER
leave. 'Give us a game,' they insisted. He turned
upon them. 'Wolves!' he said, 'you have seen that
little fellow come day after day and lead me away
from here. This money' — and he shook it at them
— 'this money is to pay for his funeral.' He turned
away and the brutes jeered him." The clergyman
paused. 'T have come, sir," he added, softly, "to
ask that this hell may be closed."
Now the Governor's eye was hard. He looked
at the tears on his daughter's cheek. He touched
a bell. "Jim," he said, "if Mr. Willetts is anywhere
about, tell him to come here."
"He's out dar now, sah."
The Governor said nothing, walking up and down
the room till Willetts entered. Then he spoke in a
voice strangely low for him: "Go to the chief of
police," he said, "and tell him to close up 103
Mason Street. Not for a day, but for all time — wipe
it out. Tell him to give the operators of the place
two hours to get out of town. You don't need an
"But, Governor!" cried Willetts, "ain't you a little
THE CARPETBAGGER 93
too fast in this matter? Just let me see you a
moment." He drew the Governor aside. "That
house," he said, confidentially, "is contributing
more to our campaign fund than any institution in
the city. We can't afiford to close it. These men
are perfectly 'square.' What's the charge against
The Carpetbagger looked at his daughter.
"There isn't any," he said,
THE governor's SUNDAY
All night a gentle rain had fallen; but the clouds
floated away with the coming of dawn and the sun
shone bright upon an ideal Sunday morning.
Roses breathed their perfumed secrets upon the
soft air; the local poet dreamed, and the music of
the bells was sweet. The pathways leading to the
churches were ablaze with ribbons, for the dammed-
up finery, held back by the war, had broken loose
and flooded society.
Governor Crance sat upon the broad veranda
enjoying a cigar, while a steady stream of church-
goers flowed past him. No one noticed him.
Every eye was averted, "The forbidden earth,"
he mused, as he glanced about the spacious
grounds, and his memory brought back the prosy
sermons of long ago in the little white church of
an Illinois hamlet.
THE CARPETBAGGER 95
"Aren't you going to church?" chimed a girlish
treble, as NelHe came bounding out of the house.
"To church?" echoed the Carpetbagger, with a
peculiar intonation in his voice. "No."
"I — I — never go to church down here."
"What! Never go to church at all?"
The Governor shook his head. "The war taught
both sides how to hate," he said. "Time alone can
"Well, the war ended two years ago," she per-
"The war did — the warfare didn't. We've quit
shooting each other, it's true, but in a thousand
ways the fighting is still going on, hotter than
"But surely not on Sunday, and in the church."
"Everywhere — all the time. If I were to attend
a church service to-day," he continued, "I should
not hear the Gospel preached ; I should merely hear
myself abused. So I don't go."
Nellie's blue eyes filled with tears. For a few
96 THE CARPETBAGGER
minutes she stood motionless ; then she slowly went
back into the house. "Oh, I'm so sorry!" she said.
There was a queer lump in the Governor's throat.
He sprang up as if to follow his daughter, stopped
at the door, and after a little indecision, turned
squarely about and walked down into the garden.
To and fro among the magnolias he paced, how
long he did not know. He heard voices and the
laughter of children and knew that the people were
returning from church ; but this did not interrupt his
meditation. The greedy sun, now high in the
heavens, had stolen every dewy jewel from leaf and
flower and the grass was dry. He threw himself
down at full length, closed his eyes and tried to shut
out the world. He v/as aroused by a fluttering
among the green leaves; a bird was building her
nest in the branches above him and he watched
her curiously. "She never goes wrong," he ex-
claimed, half aloud, "and yet she has only instinct
to guide her. Mistakes are man's monopoly,"
THE HIGH-HEADED WOMAN
Walking slowly back to the house, Governor
Crance glanced toward the adjoining garden of Mrs.
Fairburn and was surprised to see his fair neigh-
bor engaged in gathering an armful of roses. He
stopped. Unconsciously he raised his hat and did
not replace it. He wondered if she would look at
him ; but she did not. Presently he grew bolder and
cleared his throat to speak ; but he found no oppor-
tunity to do so. Uncovered he stood there and
looked at her, as one might gaze upon a rare paint-
ing by an old master. How queenly she looked
amid the flowers! For many minutes he watcKed
her in silence; then he saw her turn and saunter
back toward the stone house among the trees. As
she reached the veranda she threw down the roses
and, as if urged by a sudden impulse, turned about
deliberately and looked full upon him. He made
98 THE CARPETBAGGER
no sign, but a strange trembling seized him as he
saw her again walking toward him.
"Governor," she said, coming close to the divid-
ing wall, "I want to thank you for sending your
soldiers away from my plantation at Gum Springs."
"You needn't," he replied, with an effort to ap-
pear unconcerned. "I had to keep them some-
where, it didn't matter much where. I'm glad to
have been of service to you."
Mrs. Fairburn bowed. "Besides," he hastily
added, as he saw her turn to leave, "1 promised
you I would."
Mrs. Fairburn stopped. "I am glad you have
redeemed one promise," she said, with an emphasis
upon the word "one", which the Carpetbagger did
not fail to notice.
"Why 'one'?" he asked.
"You promised me you would look into the case
of that Francis boy." Mrs. Fairburn replied, quietly.
"Have you done so?"
The Governor winced. "I'm going to," he said,
earnestly. "I give you my word — I will."
THE CARPETBAGGER 99
"But you don't believe me, do you?"
"1 shall be pleased to give you full credit for
every creditable thing you do."
"Thank you," exclaimed the Carpetbagger, iron-
ically, "but I am not certain that I ever do any-
thing of that sort."
"What good would it do?"
"It would do you good. No kindly act is ever
lost, no matter whether the world knows it or not."
"That's what they used to say to me in Sunday
school a good many years ago."
"You haven't heard it there lately, have you?"
"No. Why should I go to church? To hear
myself abused? They all do it."
"Not all. I heard a fine sermon this morning in
which you figured as a central character, and you
were not abused, either."
"Indeed? Then the millennium must be at hand.
Who did it?"
"Dr. WilHams. He told us the result of his inter-
100 THE CARPETBAGGER
cession v/ith you to close a certain gambling house
that had ruined his brother's home."
"Yes. Didn't you know?"
"No; but it would have made no difference.
What was the text?"
" 'Can there any good thing come out of Naza-
"Um! What do you think about that question?"
"It was answered eighteen hundred years ago."
Pier voice was low and as sweet as the music of
a mountain brook. The Governor was deeply
moved and his face betrayed the emotion he felt.
Mrs. Fairburn was quick to see the effect of her
words and deemed it a good time to drive home
"I suppose you will have work now for all your
soldiers," she said. "The election is almost here."
"Why do you think that?" asked the Governor,
abruptly. She took from her hair a bright red rib-
bon and held it up. "Can you read this?" she
"Not from this distance," he replied. "But I can
THE CARPETBAGGER 101
guess what there is on it. 'Who does the count-
"They say you intend to surround every voting
place with a corporal's guard."
"Do they? How do they know?"
"You don't deny it. Governor, would not such
a thing be a monstrous outrage upon our people?'
"The ballot boxes must be protected against
rioting and disorder."
"If the result is already known, why hold any
election at all? If you decide the election, why
should anyone else take the trouble to vote? Should
not the majority rule?"
There was an earnestness in her voice that the
Carpetbagger did not like. He laughed, uneasil}'.
"Well, I don't know about that," he said, with a
forced attempt at pleasantry. "If the majority
always ruled, the mosquitoes would govern New
In spite of her seriousness the widow laughed,
and the Governor, seeing that her reserve had been
broken, followed up his advantage. The spirit of
102 THE CARPETBAGGER
the peaceful, restful sabbath day, he remarked,
could not have been better exemplified than by a
negro whom he had seen down the street, lying on
a box, his face to the sun, his eyes closed, and an
indolent tune oozing from his lips. Mrs. Fair-
burn laughed at his description of the fellow — the
conceit of an indolent tune oozing from the negro's
lips was odd.
"You seem to like flowers," he added, brusquely.
"I am very fond of them," answered Mrs. Fair-
burn. "Aren't you?"
"They are about the only things that are left me
now to love," he said, "except Nellie — God bless
her — and she's a flower."
"She's a charming girl," remarked the widow,
waimly. "You ought to be proud of her. I've
been gathering a few roses to decorate the house a
little. To-morrow is Roy's birthday."
"He's a fine boy," said the Governor. "You
ought to be proud of him."
A SIGH AND A DRINK
A woman was coming up the street, a woman
gay with ribbons and a gaudy parasol. Mrs. Fair-
burn was first to notice the newcomer's approach
and made hasty preparations to retire from sight.
To be seen talking with the arch enemy of the
state would have been to compromise herself in the
eyes of the community and she took instant flight.
The Governor watched her, hurrying along the
path leading to her house, and wondered if she
would look back; but she did not and he turned
away to his own garden where Nellie and Roy
were laughing among the trees. The "soldier" was
in a hammock and the girl was trying to shake him
out The Carpetbagger started toward them, but
just then some one called his name. A woman
stood at the front gate, and he hastened toward
her; but there soon came a halting catch in his walk
104 THE CARPETBAGGER
for he recognized Lucy Linford, the school-book
lobbyist. She had called to see him at the state-
house several times since her first visit. Once in a
laughing way he had referred to her as a "delight-
ful temptation," and she had tried to blush, but
failed. She was not of the sort that blushes success-
fully. But she was attractive and, as Willetts said,
"for dash could give any of them cards and spades."
*'I was just passing, Goyernor, and happened to
see you in the yard."
"Yes. Won't you — won't you come in?"
"For a little minute, thank you. The sun is get-
ting warm. Let us sit on the veranda."
She sat in a rocking chair and the Governor
walked up and down, with an occasional glance over
toward the stone house. Miss Linford was an illu-
mination of smiles and bubbled with the music of
laughter. He was half afraid of her, though he
found a sort of tingling pleasure in his fear; but
whenever he looked over toward the widow's house
there came a graceful picture in his mind. Other
women might be more beautiful, though he was
THE CARPETBAGGER 105
prepared to doubt it, but none could be so calm
"Governor, have you — pardon me for mentioning
it now — but have you thought any further of our
school-book bill? I am so anxious to have some-
"Well, it hasn't been keeping me awake at night,"
he replied, turning and walking toward her, only
to pass and turn again.
"Oh, I wouldn't want it to do that — like a bad
conscience. You must remember, however, that
you gave me a good deal of encouragement the last
time I had a talk with you."
The Governor was walking toward her again.
"I always encourage every woman that talks with
me," he said.
He saw her smiles and heard her musical laughter
as he halted in front of her. He felt that she was
"playing him" — he could not help but know it, but
he liked it, as most men do. Some men, getting
along in life, are never so happy as when a woman
106 THE CARPETBAGGER
is making- a fool of them. And history proves that
a statesman is as easy to fool as a minor. This
woman had many a grace which she threw off with
her fan. She had a way of spreading it before her
face and peeping over it. Willetts was right. She
could "give the most of them cards and spades."
"I received a letter from Mr. Parker the other
day," she said; "and he spoke glowingly of you."
"Did, eh? Well, Steve can put it on when he
wants to. He was a plasterer, I believe, before he
began to deal in damaged literature."
"He was very much in hopes that we might get
our bill through. It would mean so much to us
"Um — yes."
"And in my answer to his letter I should like so
much to send him encouraging news." She peeped
at him over her fan, her dark eyes full of the light
of admiration for the man standing before her. She
wore loose sleeves and he looked at her shapely arm,
adroitly exposed for inspection. "What shall I tell
THE CARPETBAGGER 107
"Who, old Steve?" The Governor was fencing
with himself to gain time. "Why, er — tell him I'm
still his friend."
"Is that all?"
"Isn't that enough?"
"I should like to tell him that our measure will
surely carry. May I tell him that?"
"Yes — you may, but you'd better not. We'll have
to feel the pulse of the House. The rascals aren't as
— as tractable as they might be, nowadays."
"Mr. Wiley Jones will not oppose it. He's one
of the most influential members and he's devoted to
"Um, yes, very devoted. Devotion is the heavi-
est part of Brother W^iley's character."
"He's very friendly, and he seems to be so con-
scientious. Don't you think so?"
The Governor laughed. Then he resumed his
walk up and down the veranda. Presently he halted
and stood looking over into the widow's yard, ab-
stractedly. The woman in the rocking-chair knew
what that meant just as well as if he had told her.
108 THE CARPETBAGGER
She bubbled with occasional merriment, just the
same, and when he turned was bright with a smile.
But how she hated the Fairburn widow! She had
no reason to believe that the widow was opposed to
her bill, except the intuition that flames out of a
woman's instinct, which, after all, may be the
strongest of reasons.
"Governor," said Miss Linford, "I'll not detain
you any longer."
"Oh, you are not detaining me. I'm at — at
home, you know."
They heard Nellie and Roy laughing. Miss Lin-
ford got up to go but stayed to remark that she
had never seen a more charming girl than the Gov-
ernor's daughter. She was so fresh, so full of inno-
cent life. And she was as unconscious of her
beauty as an oil painting. Her mother must have
been a handsome woman. She had her father's
eyes and her mother's yellow hair, evidently. The
Governor hemmed, hawed and winked under this
flattery, and, knowing that it was flattery, was
Adam enough to like it. She finally swung herself
THE CARPETBAGGER 109
out of the gate, her bright colors leaving a rainbow
glow in the air and the Carpetbagger, heaving a
sigh of relief, went into the house and took a drink.
Down the street. Old Steve's agent met Willetts, ?
sauntering along with a small yellow cane. He
raised his hat, assured her of the pleasant surprise
afforded him and turned to walk with her.
"I've just left the Governor," she said.
Willctts smiled, "I suppose he promised to put
your bill through,'' he remarked.
*'No, but I think he will do it, just the same."
"He won't," said Willetts, laconically. "Your
school-book bill is laid out. You're on a dead
card and you may as well throw up the sponge. I
know what I am talking about."
"Then what's the use of my staying here?"
"I'll tell you. Let's turn down this way where
we'll be alone."
HE MEETS A BULLET
On the following Tuesday the Midland Railway
bill passed the Senate, having on Monday run
through the smooth channels of the House, and was
now ready for the Governor's name to make it a
law. Financial arrangements had been perfected
in the East and the money was sure. Shor:ly after
the bill passed the Senate, Wiley Jones called on
Willetts. The lobbyist lived in a suite of rooms not
far from the state house. A negro was shaving him
when Jones knocked at the door.
"See who it is, Zeb," said Willetts. He never
called out "come in!" His door was always locked.
The negro admitted Jones without asking a ques-
tion, having done so time and again, and the legis-
lator strode into the room.
"Willetts," said he, "I'd like to see you alone."
"Yes, just as soon as he gets through with me;
THE CARPETBAGGER 111
won't take long. Everything seems to be all right,
"I don't know," growled Jones, sitting down.
The negro's work was soon done. As he tip-toed
out of the room, Willetts locked the door and turned
to Jones, who, without preliminary words, asked
when he was to get his money.
"Why, just as soon as I get mine."
"And when will that be?"
"The company's agent will pay over the cash just
as soon as the bill is signed."
"Suppose it is never signed?"
"Nonsense! That's fixed. You needn't worry
about the old man."
"Well, I'm doing business with you, not with
him. Nothing was said about waiting for his signa-
ture. Our deal called for the cash when the bill was
passed — ten thousand, spot cash. I've done my
work and put the bill through. Now I want the
"Don't be in a rush. This thing is safe enough.
The bill, as it stands, isn't worth fifteen cents and it
112 THE CARPETBAGGER
is unreasonable to expect them to pay us anything
before we deliver the goods."
"I've delivered mine."
"Well, you'll get your money when the rest of us
"What if somebody were to put a ball through
the Governor to-night?"
"Oh, if the sky ever falls," rejoined Willetts, sar-
castically, "we'll all of us have a fine time catching
"All right," persisted Jones, "put it the other
way; where would I be if you were accidentally to
meet a bullet going in the opposite direction?"
"You'd be 'out' ten thousand, I guess. But
what's the use of talking? You are as likely to run
against a bullet as I am."
"And if I did, you'd simply pocket the money I
have earned and no one ever would be the wiser
for it. I want my pay and I don't propose to take
any chances waiting for it, either. The legislature
is on its last legs and the whole Carpetbag govern-
ment is liable to explode any day. Have you seen
the old man since the bill passed the Senate?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 113
"Of course not; I haven't had time. But I saw
him yesterday after it passed the House."
"What did he say?"
"Oh, he didn't say much of anything. It wasn't
a surprise to him; he expected it."
Willetts knew that the Governor was wavering,
but he did not care to tell Jones. It was his habit
to tell just as much as was necessary and no more.
He could understand how a man might be coerced
into softness, but why he should sink into it of his
own accord was beyond his reckoning.
Jones sat for a time in deep thought. He was
not afraid that the Governor would not sign the
bill ; he was not really uneasy as to his ten thousand
dollars; but he was in a mood of self-condemnation
for having accepted so small a part of the purchase
"Willetts," he said, "I've been too easy with you
"Been too what? I don't know what you mean."
"I sold out too cheap. I ought to get twenty -five
thousand at least."
114 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Well, I like to see a man value his services, but
sometimes there's danger of going just a trifle too
"Too far! You couldn't have done anything
without me. I could have killed the thing if I'd
Willetts laughed. "You would have killed your-
"That might be, but I could have let the life-
blood out of that bill. And I ought to have more
"You agreed to take a certain amount."
"I know it; but you haven't paid me a cent yet.
Let me tell you something. I'm going to have
what is due me or you'll hear something drop. The
story of that bill would make a good campaign
speech. I could flop over to the other side just
about now and make my peace for all time to come;
and I can almost catch sight of the gubernatorial
chair, down at the end of such a course. That's
all." He strode out of the room and Willetts sat
down to think.
THE CARPETBAGGER 115
Jones went to the House, listened for a time to
the reading of a dull report, paired off with a man
who lived near him, but who represented a county
on the other side of the state, then mounted his
horse and rode off down into the country. His
house was some distance from the main road, and
to reach it he had to ride round the plantation of
Old John Reynolds. This was a waste of time for
a busy legislator, so he had dropped into the habit
of throwing down the old planter's fences and rid-
ing through his fields. Reynolds had his just preju-
dices against all members of the Carpetbag legisla-
ture; moreover his son was a home candidate for
Governor. He was a good-natured man and did
not at first let his temper get the better of him;
but when the trespasser continued to throw down
his fences, he grew furious. On the present occa-
sion Jones was about mid-way of a field when the
old man hailed him. The law-maker halted un-
willingly and listened absent-mindedly to a warm
rebuke. This made the old man more furious and
he launched forth a threat. "Sir," said he, "if you
116 THE CARPETBAGGER
throw down my fence again and ride through my
fields, I will shoot you." Jones was as corrupt a
man as could be found, but he was not afraid,
physically. Morally, of course, he was a coward;
all corrupt men are. He grinned a defiance at the
old planter and rode on. A few days later, he was
not present at roll-call; which excited no comment,
as negligence seemed part of the Carpetbag legisla-
tor's duty. Later, there was a commotion in the
House when news was brought that Representative
Jones had been found dead, near a gap in Old Man
Reynolds' fence. He had been shot. It was known
that Reynolds had threatened to shoot him. It
looked like a clear case. A warrant was issued
for the arrest of John Reynolds; a coroner's jury
gave a verdict against him; he was taken before a
justice of the peace for preliminary hearing and
was bound over without bail to await the action of
the grand jury and the criminal court. And his old
wife went to jail with him.
Major Reynolds was out in the country, cam-
paigning, when he heard the news of his father's
THE CARPETBAGGER 117
arrest. He learned also, that his mother was in
jail; and there was but one conclusion — that the
outrage had been engineered by Governor Crance,
to blacken the candidacy of the people's idol. The
Major was addressing a meeting when a man came
upon the stand and whispered to him. He stood
for a moment as if paralyzed, then he quietly said:
"My good people, circumstances have called me
back to the city." Without another word he rushed
forth, sprang upon a horse and galloped off. A
trusted lieutenant, a game man. Captain Pointer,
rode beside him.
"We can't get there before to-night," said the
"No," the Major replied, "but we will get there."
"I am going to kill him."
"Of course, but how? It won't do to shoot him
down. You must make him fight — if you can."
"Yes, if I can; and if I can't—"
They galloped on in silence. At a farm-house
they halted to change horses. The farmer was busy
118 THE CARPETBAGGER
with his crops and said that he didn't see how he
could accommodate the Major. He needed his
horses for work. Why not rest a while? The
Major explained that he was in a great hurry. The
farmer didn't see the need of such a rush. The
town would stay where it was, he said, and the
campaign would keep. He was the Major's sup-
porter, he added, and would do anything in reason
for him — even make speeches for him ; but he could
not give up his horses at such a time — unless the
case was very urgent. The Major looked at him.
*T am going to town," he said, "to kill the scoun-
drel that calls himself the Governor of this state."
The farmer turned and shouted to one of his men:
"Sam, catch the black horse and the roan as quick
as you can."
WHO RAISED THE DEVIL;
Willetts was in the House when the news of the
Jones murder was received. Just at that moment
he caught sight of Miss Linford in the lobby and
hastened to her. They talked for a time, during
the excitement, and discussed the probable effect
of the old planter's arrest upon his son's campaign.
"I must go over to the preliminary hearing,"
said the gambler. 'T want to see how the thing
"Do you really think that the old man killed
him?" she asked.
"No doubt of it. Wiley told me not long ago
that his life had been threatened, and I warned
him; but he was always headstrong when there
wasn't any need to be." They had walked out and
were going down the steps. "By the way," said he,
"we must see the Governor. Go with me up to
his house to-night. I'll need you."
120 THE CARPETBAGGER
That night they called at the executive mansion.
Jim admitted them to the reception room. "You'll
hab t' wait here a minute," said the darkey. "De
Gub'nor is up sta'rs in de liberry." He went
slowly up the broad stairway.
"Now remember," said Willetts, "if you get a
chance, nail him. Never let him get away — you
can do it."
Lucy Linford looked at him. There were no
smiles for him. With him she was natural, sober
— and a woman's nature is usually sober. Her
frivolity is nearly always a pretense. She may rave
over foolish things, but at heart she is practical.
She looked at him and replied: "All right, but
keep out of my way. Give me a chance."
"Hit hard," Willetts went . on. "You can do
more with him than 1 could. He's cooling toward
She gave him a chilly smile to illustrate her point.
*'I think the weather has been changing slightly
for both of us."
Willetts gave his shoulders a shrug of impatience.
THE CARPETBAGGER 121
"No more of 'both of us'. You are on a dead card
with your scheme. We've got to pull together.
Your school-book bill is laid out and you can't
resurrect it. All the Midland bill needs now is
his name — make him stick it on."
"And if I land him?" She tried to give him a
sweet and innocent look.
"Three hundred thousand — Europe," said Wil-
"And Lummers?" she asked. "What about
Willetts snififed. "A two-spot. He's been of no
use to us, anyway. We'll throw him in the deck."
The gambler stepped close to her. "See here," he
said, pointing to a charm which weighed down his
watch chain — a large, golden horseshoe set with
diamonds. "I sat in a game with a couple of horse-
men last night and cleaned them out. One of them
staked his watchcharm and I won it. Do you know
what this horseshoe signifies? It means good luck.
Understand? Good luck for you and me, as long
as we pull together."
122 THE CARPETBAGGER
Jim came down the stairway. "De Gub'nor will
be down in a minute, sah." He stepped out upon
the pillared veranda, and they heard him slowly
pacing up and down, like a sentinel.
"This thing's got to be rushed," said Willetts.
"It's getting squally around here. See?" he added,
nodding toward Jim, "that nigger is on guard at
the state house all day and is up here at night. The
old man can't trust any one else. Suppose some-
body should come in here and blow his head off!
Where would our bill be? And there it is, ready
to be signed. Make him do it." He swore and
brought his hand down hard upon a table. "Why
is he hanging back now?"
She gave a little laugh, as cold as the trickling
of ice water. "Don't you know? Are all men as
blind as bats? I saw it the first day I met the
Governor — ^just the moment she came into the
"Some reform notion, I suppose," Willetts
grunted. "He never acted this way before."
"It's worse than that," she said. "It's the
THE CARPETBAGGER 123
"What, Mrs. Fairburn!" Willetts exclaimed in a
"Why, of course. You remember who raised the
devil in the Garden of Eden, don't you?"
Willetts looked at her. "Well, ain't you a
woman? Can't you do the same?"
"Maybe — but if I did I should want a pretty
big bite of the apple."
"And you shall have it. Look out!"
The Governor came slowly down the stairway.
His face was serious. He looked troubled; but
greeted them pleasantly. Lucy smiled, not with
chilliness now, but with sweetness and warmth.
"Good evening, Governor. I hope you are well."
Willetts boldly struck out: "Well, everything
seems to have been coming our way to-day." he
The Governor had begun to walk up and down
the room, his hands behind him. "I don't know
about that," he said. "I don't like it — it's bad."
Willetts spoke up quickly. "Murder always is
bad. But who's to blame for it? We're not. And
124 THE CARPETBAGGER
if the charge sticks, you are Governor again, all
"But it looks like a trumped-up case," said the
Governor, still walking to and fro. "I don't know
that there was evidence to warrant the old man's
arrest, to say nothing of sending him to jail."
Willetts took issue with him. "Excuse me. Gov-
ernor, but that's where you are wrong. There's
no doubt about this thing. Why, Old Man Rey-
nolds had threatened to kill Jones — and for pre-
cisely the same cause. It's a clear case, and if the
courts stand by us, it'll knock his son's canvass
against you higher than a kite."
The Governor halted and confronted him. "How
do you know it's a clear case?"
"Why, I was at the preliminary hearing before
the justice of the peace. It seems that Wiley Jones
had been in the habit of riding through Old Man
Reynolds' plantation, and several times he threw
down the fences and left them for some one else
to put up. The old man, you know, was inclined
to be hot-headed, so he waited for Wiley. 'Here,'
THE CARPETBAGGER 125
he said, 'don't you do that again or there'll be
trouble,' but the next day the fences were down.
Then the old man went after Wiley, 'If you go
over my fields again, whether you throw down the
fences or not,' he said, 'I'll put a hole through you.'
Well, you know the rest. Wiley was seen riding
toward the plantation again this morning. Shortly
afterward his horse came home. Later they found
Wiley — bullet hole in his head. Fences thrown
down again. Coroner's jury said, 'Old Man Rey-
nolds.' Justice of the peace says, 'Old J\Ian Rey-
nolds.' Everybody says, 'Old Man Reynolds.' It's
all one way."
"Yes," said the Governor, walking up and down
the room, "but it was all so hurried. The old man
couldn't get away. It looks bad. And I under-
stand that his poor old wife, refusing to be sepa-
rated from him, has actually gone to the jail with
Willetts was ready with what he thought a clinch-
ing argument. "But, Governor, we can't help the
foolishness of a silly old woman."
126 THE CARPETBAGGER
The Governor wheeled about. "Foolishness!
Sir, I call it a most beautiful picture of womanly
The Governor had shown so strongly the spirit
of condemnation that Willetts did not care to risk
an argument of the case, so he said meekly: "Yes,
that's all right; but what could they do? She
"She must be got out of there. I'll send for
her — I'll send for both of them. I want to hear
his story. Here."
The Governor took out a note book, wrote upon
a leaf, tore it out, folded it, handed it to Willetts
and said: "Take this to the sheriff and have them
Willetts began to hem and haw. "Governor, I'm
not on the best of terms with the sheriiif just now.
We had a little difference, and "
"Take it to Lummers, then. Tell him to look
after it at once."
Willetts bowed and started toward the door, and
as he passed Lucy, he whispered: "Now."
THE CARPETBAGGER 127
"Governor," she began, "I hoped to find you in
a pleasant frame of mind to-night. But I suppose
you are bothered a great deal, aren't you?"
They had sat down on a divan, she beaming
sweetly upon him. "Yes," he said, "by little things
— trifles — flies! A big thing, it would be dififerent.
You can choke a dog till its eyes pop out, but you
can't choke a fly. I guess you're never bothered
that way. There are no flies on you."
Her smile was radiant. She liked him best when
he was inclined to be humorous, for then she felt
her influence over him. "Now you are yourself.
That's better — I like you now." She moved closer
to him, with a disposition to cuddle up against him.
"Do you? How much?" He looked upon the
freshness of her face, felt the dazzle of her smile.
Surely she was an engaging woman — and the Gov-
ernor was not an anchorite.
"More than you will ever know, or any one else
will believe," she said, cuddling closer to him.
"But how much is that?"
"I would rather show you than to tell you. But
128 THE CARPETBAGGER
seriously, Governor, would you do me a favor — a
great favor — if you could do it just as well as not?"
"I don't know; I might — they say I'm about
mean enough for anything, you know. But that
school-book business is "
"Oh, it isn't that."
"No. The state of Mississippi won't indorse
your old reader's platform — 'we must educate, we
must educate or we must perish'."
"No books? What's up now?"
"I want your name."
The Governor prankishly shrank from her. "Oh,
this is so sudden."
"Calm your fluttering heart," she laughed. "I
want you officially."
"Oh, only officially. I don't see anything very
flattering in that."
"Yes, officially — at present."
"And by and by?"
"We'll see about that. But, now, the favor — the
Midland Railway bill."
"Ah, switched, have you? What's that for?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 129
"Well," she said, "I think it would be a good
"For the state, of course," he interrupted. "Well,
maybe you're right. As an employer I guess the
state will pay you better than old Steve's book
concern. Mississippi always paid me everything
that was coming to me — and most everything has
"Well, why not? The state doesn't pay its public
servants what they really deserve."
"Well, no; some of us, I guess, never get what
we really deserve."
She laughed, pleased that he was still in a humor-
ous mood. "But why shouldn't the state have
what it d-eserves? It wants this Midland railroad.
Why do you delay signing the bill?"
"There are several swamps about it that I want
to look into."
"But the legislators have done that," she quickly
replied. "That's what they are hired for."
"Um, no," he spoke up, shaking his head. "Not
exactly. They are hired for ten dollars a day — and
130 THE CARPETBAGGER
**But you are going to sign the bill, aren't you?"
"Well, you see "
"For my sake," she broke in, closer to him, gaz-
ing into his eyes, "for me."
"Well, for your sake, I guess "
Jim interrupted by stepping in from the portico.
"Scuse me, sah. Mis' Fairburn an' dat boy what
calls hisse'f Cap'n."
The Governor got up as quickly as he could.
"Show them in," he commanded, and then added,
to Lucy: "They won't stay long. Step up to the
library a minute. I'll soon get rid of them."
She hastened to obey. On the landing she halted.
"Governor," she whispered, "may I hope?"
"You couldn't do anything better," he gaily
replied, waving his hand at her, as she threw him a
THE OLD man's SIDE OF IT
Mrs. Fairburn and the "Captain" came into the
room. The Governor saluted them graciously.
The visit was, of course, a surprise. They were
neighbors, in the sense of living near, but they were
far apart socially. In a moment the Governor had
forgotten the existence of the dashing creature up-
stairs in the library. The Yankee who has done
wrong may never reform, but he is ever on the look-
out for an opportunity to do so. It is hard wholly
to corrupt the blood of the Pilgrim Fathers, It
may sometimes be harsh but never entirely dis-
honest. So the v/oman up-stairs was ignored,
which was surely honest, and the Carpetbagger
smiled upon the widow. He was not without a
sense of poetry and he fancied that she had brought
with her the fragrance of the perfumed dews, drip-
ping from the blossoms.
132 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Good evening, Mrs. Fairburn and — Captain,"
was the way he welcomed them — not much in
words, but his eyes showed a warmer greeting.
"Sit down, won't you?"
"I thank you/' said Mrs. Fairburn, "but my mis-
sion is one of exceeding sadness."
She sank into a chair. The Governor knew what
she meant; but he bowed and said interrogatively:
"Of course you know," she began, "that this
afternoon old Mr. Reynolds — "
"Yes, I know," the Governor broke in. "I know
— bad, bad. I hope you don't think I had anything
to do with it." He gave her a searching look, won-
dering if she did. But she put him at ease when
frankly she added:
"Oh, surely not. Governor."
"Thank you/' he remarked with a sigh. "I have
already waived all law in the matter, and Fm going
straight to the bottom of it myself,"
"I am glad to hear that. Mr. Reynolds, you
know, is one of the oldest and most highly re-
spected — "
THE CARPETBAGGER 133
"Yes, I know," he broke in, "and I give you my
word that he shall have full justice — law or no law."
The "Captain" had sat down stiffly on a straight-
back chair, looking straight before him as a mili-
tary man should. He paid no attention to the con-
versation of these civilians. The arrest of an old
man could not interest him, unless it involved a
"Governor," said Mrs. Fairburn, "there is some-
thing higher than the mere forms of law. Above
all law stands the sublime figure — Justice."
"But like her twin sister. Truth, she is sometimes
obscured by the dark fogs of ignorance and malice,"
the Governor replied, and the widow gave him a
look in which there was no sectional prejudice —
the look of a woman whose admiration was rising.
At this point the boy spoke up. "Governor, has
my commission got here yet?" He did not look
"Ah, your commission — from Washington. No,
not quite." And then speaking to Mrs. Fairburn
the Governor added: "I have sent for old Mr. Rey-
134 THE CARPETBAGGER
noMs, and have ordered him brought here. I want
to hear his side of the story."
"I am so glad, Governor. And whatever he tells
you, you may rely upon as the whole truth."
Nellie jumped in at the door, slammed it after
her, and then, opening it wide enough to peep
through, cried out: "Go back, don't you come in
"What have you got there?" the Governor asked.
"No, sir, it's Bulger. That dog will be the death
of me." She turned and with a look of surprise
recognized Mrs. Fairburn. "Why, good evening."
Then she saw the boy. "Hello, Roy!" she cried,
"I haven't seen you since this morning." She ran
over to him.
"Nellie," said her father, "can't you find a chair?"
"Yes, sir, but I don't want one. Come on, Roy,
I've got something I want to show you." The
"soldier" forgot his military training and romped
with her, up and down the veranda and out in the
soft moonlight among the magnolia trees.
THE CARPETBAGGER 135
"They seem to have grown very fond of each
other," said Mrs. Fairburn.
"Yes," replied the Governor; "along with their
cats and their alligators and their bulldogs, my
room looks like a case of delirium tremens."
Mrs. Fairburn smiled. After a short silence she
said: "There is another matter, Governor. Do you
remember? The pardon for that Francis boy. You
said you would look into it."
"You promised me you would."
"Promised you? I guess I did." He reached
over and touched a bell. The negro appeared.
"Jim," he said, "go up to the library and bring me
the papers in the upper right hand pigeon-hole of
my desk. If I'm not mistaken the pardon is among
those papers, Mrs. Fairburn."
Jim slowly mounted the stairs, repeating to him-
self, "Upper right hand cornder, upper right hand
"I felt sure you had merely overlooked it, Gov-
136 THE CARPETBAGGER
"It isn't that," he replied. "I've been too busy-
to look into it."
"It wouldn't take so very long, would it, Gov-
The Governor looked at her. Frankly she met
his gaze. How beautiful her eyes were; how musi-
cal her voice sounded; how perfectly her gown
fitted! Surely she didn't look like the mother of
a son old enough to slaughter Indians! There
Vv^as a peculiar softness in his voice as he slowly
replied: "It wouldn't take me very long, Mrs.
Fairburn, to look into any matter in which you
Jim came down stairs, limping to imply mystery,
and, handing the Governor some papers, whispered:
"White lady up dar, sah." The Governor took the
documents, making him a sly sign to keep quiet,
and began to read over their titles — 'Concurrent
Resolution, 68' — 'To establish free schools and to
provide for' — 'Midland Railway bill' — Ah." He
glanced toward the library, put this paper into his
pocket, and proceeded to read: "'Pardon, Elias
THE CARPETBAGGER 131
Francis.' This is it. Thought it was here some-
where." He returned several papers to Jim and
told him to put them back where he found them.
"Upper right hand corner, remember."
"Yas, sah." Mounting the stairs the darkey re-
peated, "Upper right hand cornder" until he
reached the landing.
"And, say, Jim," the Governor called, "bring a
pen and ink."
"Yas, sah. Upper right hand cornder — pen and
"Governor," said Mrs. Fairburn, "you don't
know how much that piece of paper is worth to
A feeling of rascally humor seized the Governor
and he significantly replied: "Well, you don't know
how much it might have been worth to me either."
"It will carry joy to a stricken household," said
the widow, too earnest in her gratitude to catch the
"It couldn't be borne by a better messenger,
"Thank you. Governor, you are very kind."
138 THE CARPETBAGGER
"How's that? Kind? Then there must be some-
thing wrong with me to-night, for I haven't heard
that before since I struck the state." Jim came
down. "On the table," said the Governor, motion-
ing. The negro put down the pen and inkstand
and took occasion to slyly whisper:
"White lady up dar yit, sah."
"Go on, go on," commanded the Governor, and
under his breath added something that Mrs. Fair-
burn did not hear — it was just as well that she
didn't. Jim nodded, grinned and resumed his place
on the portico, slowly pacing up and down.
The Governor signed the pardon. "Understand,"
he said, "I don't really know anything about thii
merits of this case; I do this for — "
"For justice, Governor."
"No," said he, handing her the paper, "for a live
There was a tramping of feet on the flag-stone
walk. The Governor listened. Mrs. Fairburn
arose. Jim stepped in. "Mr. Lummers, Mr. Wil-
letts an' some udder folks, sah."
"Show them in. It's Mr. Reynolds."
THE CARPETBAGGER 139
"I must go," said Mrs. Fairburn. "Where's
"Don't — please don't/' the Governor pleaded.
They stood a Httle apart, with their eyes on the
door, waiting for the newcomers to enter. Tremu-
lous, but walking proudly, old John Reynolds, fol-
lowed by the rest came through the broad door-
way. The old planter was a picture, a picture now
almost faded from the canvas of our national life,
an out-of-date dignity, an emphasis of over-con-
scious self-respect in black. He advanced well
within the room, glanced down to see that his wife
was beside him, and stood erect, as still as his phys-
ical weakness would permit. It was some time
before a word was spoken. The Governor bowed
and was silent, gazing at the old man — the palsied
remnant of a country's aristocracy. Mrs. Fairburn
ran to the woman and embraced her. Willetts was
the first to speak.
"Well, here we are, Governor."
"Yes," Lummers spoke up, "and a hard time we
had bringing them, too."
140 THE CARPETBAGGER
The Governor cleared his throat. "Sit down,
everybody," he commanded, but no one moved.
The old man took no notice of the Governor,
but with a courtly gesture addressed himself to Mrs.
Fairburn. "Good evening, Madam. And have you
come here to intercede for me? That was wrong,
Madam; it should not have been done." Then he
slowly turned his old eyes upon the Governor.
"Will you inform me for what purpose I have been
brought here in violation of all forms of law?"
Mrs. Reynolds gently touched his arm. "John!"
she pleadingly said.
The old man turned and bowed to her, and then
addressed the Governor. "Well, sir!"
The Governor's voice was so soft that Mrs. Fair-
burn looked at him quickly, and Willetts moved
uneasily. "Mr. Reynolds, no one could regret more
deeply — "
"Spare yourself that trouble, sir," the old man
interrupted. "Am I to be informed?"
"Mr. Reynolds, I have sent for you to — "
"By what authority?" the old man broke in„
THE CARPETBAGGER 141
"Well, by the authority of a kindly interest — if
"I recognize no such authority, sir."
The old woman touched his arm again and called
his name, speaking it in a voice full of sorrow an(J
admonition — "Jo^^-" He saluted her gallantly.
"Now that you have come," continued the Gov-
ernor, "I should like to hear your story."
"Story? I do not come here primed with ;
"I want to hear your side of the case."
"This is no court of law, sir."
"Of course not; but understand — I do not de
mand this — I request it."
There was a softening change in the old man*-.
manner. "Very well, sir, you shall have it. Om
morning I found that some one had thrown dowr
my fences and ridden through my plantation. I
put the fences up. The next day I saw a man
throw down the fence and start to ride through. I
hailed him. 'Sir,' I said, 'don't you do that again.^
He made a sneering answer and rode on. Theii
142 THE CARPETBAGGER
I called out to him: 'Sir, if you do that again I
will shoot you.' I am told that to-day my fences
were thrown down again and that this man rode
through. Later, he was found dead near a gap
that he had made in the fence."
"With a bullet hole in his head," Willetts
The Governor made a gesture to enjoin silence.
The old man proceeded:
"Somebody had killed him. I did not. And do
you think, sir, that if he had fallen by my hand,
I would stand here and deny it? No, sir. I did
not kill him; but — the infamous scoundrel, I wish
to God I had!"
Willetts stepped forward. "Governor," he be-
gan, "you must remember — "
"Silence, sir!" the Governor thundered. Then
in kindly tones he said: "Mr. Reynolds, I have de-
cided to take the law in my own hands — "
"You have already done that, sir."
"And release you on your own recognizance."
"You cannot do that, sir. I am answerable to
the sheriff alone."
THE CARPETBAGGER 143
"I made the sheriff," the Governor quietly re-
"Then, sir, to the law," said the old man.
"Damn the law — I beg your pardon, ladies."
The Governor had lost his patience, though not in
unkindness, "Take them away!" he said.
"Stop!" Reynolds interposed, "I demand to be
taken back to the jail."
His old wife's pleading voice was heard. "Oh,
John, let us not go back to the jail," she said. "It's
such a dreary place."
"To the jail!" he cried excitedly. "It is the law."
The old woman looked up at him as he turned
away. Taking his hand she softly said: "Then
we'll go back together."
They turned toward the door and went out in
silence. Willetts and Lummers prepared to follow
"Wait," said the Governor. "Put them down
at their own door."
"But, Governor," Willetts interrupted.
144 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Do as I tell you — at their own door. Don't let
them knov/ where th.ey are going^. Lummers, go
to the sheriff and tell liim that under no conditions
are they to be admitted to the jail again. Go!"
A HORTICULTURAL IDEA
The Governor and Mrs. Fairburn stood in
silence till they heard the carriage roll away. 'Gov-
ernor," said the widow, extending her hand, "I
thank you. It was a noble act."
"Oh, that's all right," he replied, taking the
proffered hand gingerly.
"You have proved yourself a man, Governor."
"You are surprised?"
"I am highly pleased."
"But — surprised. I'm sorry. You came to see
the Governor and were surprised to find a man."
"I am glad that the man I found is greater than
the Governor I came to see."
The Governor waved his hand in acknowledg-
ment of these warm words of praise, and motioning
toward a chair said: "Sit down. Mrs. Fairburn,"
he said, after a pause, "do you think it wrong for
146 THE CARPETBAGGER
a man to play the cards that circumstances have
"Not if he play them honorably, Governor."
"In a game where everyone else is cheating?"
"An honorable man should not be found in such
a game," she replied.
"But remember," he insisted, "the cards of life
are dealt by circumstances. A man is forced into
the game, and must play the hand that is waiting
She did not agree with him. "Man is not the
creature but the creator of circumstances," she
"No," contended the Governor, "the wise man as
well as the fool is a creature of environment." He
ran his lingers through his hair, thinking. Sud-
denly he looked up. "Imagine a tangled garden,"
he said, "wild and neglected, choked with weeds
and briars, an unsightly jungle. Amid that rank
wilderness of weeds a single rose lifts its head. It
isn't much of a rose; but it is a rose. Do the
magnificent flowers which glorify the well-kept
THE CARPETBAGGER 147
garden across the road, deserve more credit than
that stunted weakUng which has fought its way to
the air and the sun?"
It was her turn to reflect, and she did so for a
moment or two. "But who would plant a rose in
such a jungle?"
"Circumstances might; circumstances do," he
replied. "Is that the fault of the rose?"
"No," she admitted. "We are not responsible for
our existence; we are responsible for our lives.
How much better if kindly hands would tear away
the weeds and let in the pure air and the snn-light."
Jim stepped in and handed the Governor a card.
He looked at it. "Um, Captain Pointer. Tell the
Captain to come in."
Mrs. Fairburn arose. "I must find Roy," she
said, "and bid you good-night."
"No; not yet, please."
"Yes, I really must be going. I don't know why
I should have remained so long. I "
Captain Pointer appeared at the door. He sav/
Mrs. Fairburn, bowed to her and entered the room.
148 THE CARPETBAGGER
Advancing toward the Governor he halted and with
a military salute, bade him good evening. Mrs.
Fairburn turned toward Jim who stood at the door.
"I wish you would see if you can find my son,"
she said, "tell him that it's time we were going
"Just a minute," the Governor spoke up, address-
ing Mrs. Fairburn as the negro hastened ofif. "I'm
rather interested in that horticultural idea of yours."
The Captain glanced slily at Mrs. Fairburn and
handed the Governor a letter. The Governor
opened it, read its brief contents and handed it
back. Mrs. Fairburn had moved over to the win-
dow, and stood there looking out with her face
turned away from the two men.
"I don't believe in this sort of thing," said the
Governor in a low tone; "don't believe in it at all — •
seventeenth century. Tell him I want to see him.
Ask him to come here — alone — and we'll talk it
The Captain gave him a cool smile. "But, Gov-
ernor, such vi t\:i)g WyiuXi be — "
THE CARPETBAGGER 149
"I know all about that; you tell him to come
"He will no doubt come, sir, if you refuse to — "
"Good-night, sir. Give him my answer."
The Captain, with his smile growing cooler,
bowed himself out. Mrs. Fairburn did not look
round. If she had heard their conversation she
gave no indication of that fact.
The Governor advanced toward her. "'Mrs. Fair-
burn," he began, "when I was a boy I used to fear
death; now I know that life is the only thing to be
feared. The ruler of an enemy's country — with
every man's hand against me — not a friend save my
own flesh and blood and one whose skin is as black
as the estimation in which I am held. That is my
garden, Mrs. Fairburn."
"It may be an enemy's country. Governor, but it
holds one friend who will always be grateful to you
and a hand that shall never be against you." She
held forth her hand and the Governor took it.
"Mrs. Fairburn," he cried, "I am the one to feel
grateful to-night; and I do." He hesitated for a
150 THE CARPETBAGGER
moment, still holding her hand. "You have
changed the current of my life."
"Governor," the widow slowly said, with more
earnestness than he had ever noticed before, "a
little thing may serve to divert the current of your
life; but you alone can change it."
"Alone?" echoed the Governor, looking into her
"Alone," she repeated. "You must do it your-
She gently withdrew her hand and for a moment
neither spoke. There was a queer lump in the Car-
petbagger's throat which kept him silent and Mrs.
Fairburn seemed to be thinking of something away
back in the past. "Governor," she said at last, her
voice low and musical and soothing, "I was born
among the mountains of old Tennessee and I love
that rugged country. To me there is nothing in
the whole realm of nature more beautiful than a
mountain brook — clear as crystal, bright as the
sunshine, sweet as the dews of heaven. I never
see a muddy stream, dark and polluted, that I don't
THE CARPETBAGGER 151
think of what that stream was, away back up yonder
in the mountains. I never behold such a stream
without a sigh and a wish that somehow I could
remove the contaminating influences that have
made it what it is."
She looked straight into the Governor's eyes and
he read the imagery of her words aright.
"A muddy stream may be powerful," she con-
tinued. "Circumstances may make it very power-
ful. It may even be very useful, in its way. But
it is no longer beautiful, Governor, because it is no
He tried to speak, but, though his lips moved, no
sound came from them. It seemed as if a giant hand
had tightly gripped his throat. When at last he found
his voice its sound startled him. "Yes," he whis-
pered, hoarsely, "I know. I understand. It's all
true. But if this stream, dark and muddy as it is,
could be made as clear as a crystal spring — could
the world forget — could you forget — that it had
once been polluted?"
Big Jim came lumbering into the room. "I kain't
152 THE CARPETBAGGER
find dat Cap'n boy no whar," he said. "I thought
I yere him an' Miss NelHe a-laughin' one place an'
I went dar, an' den I yere him an' her summers
else an' I goes an' dey ain't dar. I looks up in de
moonlight an' dey ain't dar — an' de Lawd only
knows whar dey is."
The negro suddenly discovered that he had not
an attentive audience and stopped short in abashed
amazement. Mrs. Fairburn detached a rose from
her bodice and extended it toward the Governor.
"Make it clear," she said.
NOT QUITE SO MUDDY
Roy did not make his appearance and Governor
Crance volunteered to escort his fair visitor home.
Jim looked after them as they walked out. Then
he laughed. "Things gwine on yere, I tell yo'.
Fust thing I knows I'll hab two pa'r o' couples
t' watch. An' — an' — a white lady in de liberry."
He went to a door opening out into the garden,
and whistled. Nellie and Roy entered cautiously.
"An' now, if you'll 'sense me fur t'arin' myself
away," said the negro, 'T'll jest step out on de
po'ch an' ketch a few flies fur de alligator."
Nellie and Roy sat down beside each other. They
had formulated a desperate scheme. The fragrance
of the flowers, the soft air, the moonlight had
been too much for the girl to withstand. All na-
ture demanded something romantic of her. "And
154 THE CARPETBAGGER
remember," she said, "it must be at midnight —
"Yes," drawled the boy, a little afraid now that
he was out of the moonlight, "but I don't see the
use of all that."
"Well, how else could it be done?" she pouted.
"Why, I'd just go up like a soldier and tell him."
"Oh, no, no; that would never do."
"I don't know. I think the Governor likes me
pretty well, and, besides, I think he's a little soft
on mother. I'd just as soon chance it. I'll bet
he'd say yes."
"Of course he would, you goose, and that would
spoil it all. Anybody could be married like that.
If I can't elope, I won't be married at all."
The boy pondered for a moment or two and then
looked up brightly. "If we ask him, maybe he'll
let us elope."
She was angry enough to have boxed his ears.
"Why, you ninny, this is a secret," she cried, indig-
nantly. "We mustn't tell anybody about it. All
elopements are secret. Don't you remember how
THE CARPETBAGGER 155
they did in the 'Lost Heiress'? Have you got a
"No, but I've got a bay."
"That won't do. It's got to be black."
"And how about the ladder?" she asked.
"Why, the rope-ladder."
"What do you want a ladder for?"
"To get out of the window. How do you sup-
pose I'm going to get down?"
"Why, come down the stairs, can't you?"
She gave him a look that was enough to have
withered him. "No, sir; who ever heard of such
a thing? Coming down the stairs!"
"Won't any sort of ladder do?" he asked.
"Oh, I forgot!" she cried. "We can't have a
horse. Couldn't take Bulger on a horse. Or the
parrot, or the cat, or the alligator."
"Great Scott! Can't you leave 'em here?"
"No, sir; do you think I'd leave Bulger behind?"
It was time for the boy to think again. "Well,
if everything's got to go along," he growled, "it
156 THE CARPETBAGGER
would take an express wagon to run away with
Jim, outside, gave a warning whistle. A mo-
ment later the negro poked his head into the room.
"Coast ain't clear now, Miss Nellie. Man-o-wah's
They heard the Governor, whistling a merry tune.
Nellie and Roy hastily took seats on opposite sides
of the room. The Governor came in briskly.
"Captain, your mother wants you," he said.
Roy got up awkwardly and stood for a moment as
if he felt it incumbent upon himself to say some-
thing. But nothing came into his mind, so he
stood, looking hopelessly at the girl.
"I'll just run over with him/' she said. "I think
he's afraid to go alone."
"What, and a soldier!" exclaimed the Governor,
with mock earnestness. Then the young fellow
found his tongue. "I am not afraid to go any-
where," he declaied, straightening up stiffly.
The Governor saluted. "Good-night, Captain."
Nellie went with Roy to the door, whispered to
him and threw him a kiss as he passed out.
THE CARPETBAGGER 157
"Pigeons!" chuckled the Governor, "I suppose
they think I'm bhnd." NelHe turned toward him.
"In your wonderful collection of pets, I suppose
you are growing to like the biped best of all, aren't
you?" he asked. She bashfully nodded her head
iind the Governor continued: "Well, that's right.
I rather like that parrot myself."
"Parrot!" she exclaimed, indignantly.
"Why, certainly. You haven't added any other
two-legged freak to your aggregation, have you?"
"N— no, sir."
''Well, I should hope not. The house is getting
so cluttered up with your pets that I guess I'll have
to call a halt now. Whenever you want to add an-
other one to your outfit, you'll have to get my con-
sent first. Do you understand?"
"Biped, quadruped or centipede.'*
"Is it a bargain? Good! Now, then, how'd you
like to be my secretary, eh?"
"Goody! May I?"
158 THE CARPETBAGGER
"If you promise to be real good and not bother
me by asking questions about things that don't
concern you, I'll let you help me with my letters up
in the library."
With an exclamation of delight Nellie darted
toward the stairway and was halfway up to the
landing before the Governor suddenly recollected
that the library already contained a visitor.
"NelHe!" he shouted. She stopped in amazement.
"Here! Come down, I can't let you help me to-
night. Some other time. There! Run along now.
The alligator may need a few more flies before bed-
Though somewhat disappointed, the girl needed
no second bidding, as she was eager to muse alone
over the ripening of her own romantic schemes.
The Carpetbagger waited till she had shut the door;
then he started up the stairs. Suddenly he saw the
rose, on the lapel of his coat. He halted. "Jim."
he called, stepping down into the room. The negro,
never far off, appeared in an instant. "Ask the
lady in the library to come down." He buttoned his
THE CARPETBAGGER 159
coat tightly and stood, waiting-. Lucy came trip-
ping down the stairs, ahead of Jim.
"Is my hair gray?" she asked, banteringly.
"Well, you'll have to make up for lost time."
The Governor was cool. "I haven't lost any
time," he said.
"Well, I have. I've read all the books in your old
"Then you haven't lost time," he replied.
"You've improved it."
"Well, let's not lose any now," she said. "How
about that bill?"
"Why, the Midland."
He looked at her steadily. "I can't recall any
such bill — to-night," he said.
The lobbyist started. "Ah!" she exclaimed, evi-
dently surprised. "Will your memory be better
"I'm afraid not. My memory seems to be getting
worse every day."
"Governor, you can't forget that bill. If you do,
others will forget the election."
160 THE CARPETBAGGER
"That's all right. The election will have to take
care of itself."
"But will it take care of you?"
'T don't know. And I don't care."
"Governor, do you know what this means?" Now
there was genuine alarm in her voice.
"Yes," slowly replied the Carpetbagger. "I do.
It means that the next man who serves as Governor
of the State of Mississippi is going to be elected
She gave her head a contemptuous toss. "Sui-
cide! Are you going to throw over all your
"Friends? What friends?"
"Why, your political friends."
"There is no such thing as a political friend."
She tossed her head again. "Then if there are
no political friends there can be no political obliga-
tions. Remember that."
"I'll not forget it. Shall I order my carriage for
"No, thank you, I prefer to go as I came." She
THE CARPETBAGGER 161
walked off full of anger, but thought better of it
and at the door turned to him. "Let us part as
friends. Good-night." She held forth her hand,
hoping that by a touch she might win him back.
But her magnetism failed her this time, for he
grasped her hand as he would have taken the hand
of a man. "Good-night," she repeated. "Good-
bye," said the Governor, with significant emphasis.
She went out. Walking slowly about the room, he
looked down at the rose on his lapel.
"I don't belieVe our stream is quite so muddy as
it was," he mused.
NOTHING BUT ACTION NOW
The Governor was walking slowly up and down
the room, with an occasional glance at the rose,
when Major Reynolds' card was brought in. His
step had come hard upon the floor of the portico,
and the negro's eyes were wide with apprehension.
''Show him in," said the Governor, with another
glance at the rose, resuming his walk. He heard
the Major enter and turned to face him.
"Good evening, sir," said the Governor. "Will
you sit down?"
"Sir," the Major began, with his head high and
his breast full, "in contravention of all usages be-
tween gentlemen, I am here at .your request."
"Yes, I sent for you. We are both too old to —
make fools of ourselves. Let's talk this thing over."
"Sir," replied the Major, with terrible earnest-
ness, "when you arrest my father and send him
THE CARPETBAGGER 163
and my old mother to jail, the matter has gone
beyond talk and beyond explanation. Nothing
but action now!"
"But, Major, do you think for a moment that I
caused your father's — "
"Any man who would be guilty of such an out-
rage would not hesitate to deny it. In your office
I summoned you to meet the voters of this com-
monwealth at the polls. In this affair you meet
me — you must do it."
*'But wait a moment. Major. Do you know
what my position in this matter is?"
"I do not care what your position is. I "under-
stand my duty as a man of honor, and I know that
you are a coward as well as a scoundrel. You
shall not dodge this issue if I have to horse-whip
you publicly through the streets."
The old Carpetbagger recoiled as if he had been
stung. He drew himself up to his full height.
There was a light in his eye such as no one ever had
seen there before. "Stop!" he cried, his long, bony
forefinger pointing like a pistol straight at the
164 THE CARPETBAGGER
Major's face. "Hold on, nov/! I've got a bullet
here," he said, tapping his left shoulder. "Some
of you fellows gave it to me at Antietam. Maybe
you did it — I don't know. But I wasn't dodging
then and I haven't dodged since then." He stopped
for a moment and then added, with evident effort
to master his feelings: "Four years of fighting
v/as enough for me. It ought to have been enough
for you. Don't be a fool."
The Major stood stern and unmoved. He was
not thinking of the war or its consequences, but of
the fact that an outrage had been put upon his
father and his mother. The cold light of a sneer
fell across his grim countenance. "Sir," he said,
"even a coward is safe in his own house. But to-
morrow, whenever and wherever I meet you, I will
shoot you as I would a rabid cur. Take your pistol
with you. I will make you use it."
"Do you mean that I must choose between a duel
and assassination?" calmly inquired the Governor.
"Call it what you like," hotly rejoined the South-
erner. '"^You know what I mean."
"I will fight."
THE CARPETBAGGER 165
"Ah!" exclaimed the Major, with brightening
"Let me tell you," continued the Carpetbagger,
"that this business has no place in modern civiliza-
tion. It belongs to the seventeenth century. But
if there be no alternative — if it must come — if \\q
must go back into romance — let's go 'way back.
Meet me at midnight — alone — no seconds — in tlie
garden out there under the magnolias. I'll be there
with an extra saber at your disposal. I don't give
that," he added, snapping his fingers, "for your
code or your customs; but I'll meet you — man to
The Major smiled. "Thank you," he said. "I
will be there. Until then, sir, I bid you good-
night." He bov/ed in a stately fashion, stepped to
the door, turned, bowed again and passed out.
The Governor walked up and down the room.
"It had to come," he mused. And he seemed
relieved that some sort of settlement had at last
been reached. It had been an eventful evening,
an evening of stern decision and almost of tender-
166 THE CARPETBAGGER
ness, an evening scented by the sweet odor of a
rose. He touched a bell. "J™/' ^^ said, "lock up
for the night." The negro began to close the doors
and windows and to draw the curtains. Nellie
looked into the room, timidly.
"May I come in?" she asked. The Governor held
out his arms toward her. "What was all that loud
talking?" she went on, looking with strange inquiry
at her father. "I have been waiting ever so long
for my good-night kiss. You weren't going to for-
get me to-night, were you?"
The Governor answered with an emotional note
of tenderness in his voice. "No, little one, I could
not forget you — to-night." He kissed her fondly
and, going with her to the door, kissed her again.
"Good-night, little one."
"Mus' I put out all de lights, sah?" said Jim.
"Except in the library. I have some writing to
do. But don't wait for me. Go to bed."
"Yas, sah," said the negro. "Good-night, sah."
THE CARPETBAGGER 167
Drawing a roll of bills from his pocket, the Car-
petbagger pressed it into the negro's hand. "J^"^*"
he said, "you're a good fellow. Keep it — it's
yours." The darkey looked at him in surprise.
Too much overcome to say anything he drooped,
bowed his head and went out, taking a lamp with
him. The room was dark. The Governor went to
a window and drew aside the curtains. The full
moon, sentiment's searchlight, threw a flood of sil-
very whiteness upon him as he looked out toward
the magnolias in the garden. Slowly he bowed his
head and his lips touched the flower upon his coat.
THE WHIPPOORWILL's CALL
Two hours is scant time to prepare for death,
but Governor Crance found it too long. His busi-
ness affairs required no settlement. Exposed as he
had long been to the danger of assassination, he
had taken the precaution to guard against any emer-
gency. There were a few letters to be written — that
Above his desk in the library tv/o cavalry sabers
hung crossed upon the wall. One of them he had
carried through the war; the other he had wrenched
from the stiffening clutch of a fallen foe at An-
tietam. Both had done bloody service. For the
first time since they had been hung up as orna-
mental trophies, he took the weapons down and
looked them over. Of dififerent workmanship, they
were equal in length, in weight and in sharpness.
"I don't know how this will go on the ground,"
THE CARPETBAGGER 169
he mused, as he again grasped the old familiar hilt.
"It used to be all right in the saddle — a dash and
a slash and it was over with. But this is different.
Still, it beats a pistol. They say he is the best shot
in the South and I couldn't hit the side of a barn."
The house was still. From the negro quarters,
faint and far, floated snatches of plantation melodies
and the thrumming of a banjo. A tiny clock upon
the mantel startled the Governor by chiming the
hour of eleven.
"An hour yet," he muttered. "It's bad enough
to hunt for trouble, but I believe it is worse to wait
for it. I can't stay here, or I'll suffocate."
With the sabers under his arm he quietly tiptoed
down the stairway, opened a window and stepped
out upon the broad veranda. It was a glorious
moonlit night, almost as light as day, bright and
blue and balmy. The soft air, sweet with the fra-
grance of magnolias and the flov/ery incense of .
midsummer bloom, seemed to whisper, "Peace on
earth, good will to men," and its message went
straight to his heart.
no THE CARPETBAGGER
"Why should a man be shoved back into the
middle ages like this?" he said, half savagely. "I
feel as if I were trying to break into one of Walter
Scott's novels. I don't want to kill him and Missis-
sippi can't afford to lose him, I've seen enough of
blood — wasn't cut out for a butcher any way. But,"
he added, firmly, "it's better to be the butcher than
the beef. If a corpse has got to be furnished it won't
be mine if I can help it."
A dry twig snapped beneath his foot with a re-
port like a pistol and a startled night bird fluttered
among the bushes. Saber in hand, he turned, half
expecting to face a foe; but it was the instinct of
self-defense rather than an indication of nervous-
ness, for he never was more completely master of
himself. Indeed he marveled at his own coolness
at such a time for, try as he might, he could not
convince himself of the seriousness of the situation.
Of one thing he felt perfectly sure — he would come
out all right.
*'Cards alone don't count," he had often said.
"A great deal depends on how they are played.
THE CARPETBAGGER 171
In a crisis, the fellow who loses his head loses the
game, no matter what he has in his hand."
Looking back toward the gubernatorial mansion,
its tall columns shining white in the moonlight, like
a spectral castle framed in shadow, he was surprised
to see a light twinkling from one of the upper win-
dows, Nellie's room or the library, he could not tell
which. "That's queer," he soliloquized. "I could
have sworn I put out that light a few minutes ago.
And Nellie has been in dreamland for a couple of
hours. I must have forgotten and left it burning."
Near the center of a little grove of magnolias, at
the lower end of the garden, stood a great live oak,
a rough, gnarled giant, whose twisted trunk and
sprawling branches had often been explored by
Nellie and Roy during their romping expeditions.
About this tree there was an open space of green-
sward, as if the younger trees had withdrawn to a
respectful distance from the old monarch of the
garden and had halted to form a guard of honor.
Sharply silhouetted against the moon, the branches
overhead threw upon the grass fantastic shadows,
that changed with every breeze.
172 THE CARPETBAGGER
"There's plenty of room here," said the Governor,
half aloud, as he looked over the spot. "I've a
good half hour yet; but I won't keep him waiting.
I've always found that the best v/ay to get through
a bad job is to make a good beginning."
He leaned the sabers against the oak and sat
down upon one of its knotty roots. A mimite later,
his thoughts played truant and overleaped the stone
wall near by. The widow! Did she know? She was
present when Capt. Pointer presented the Major's
challenge. Could it be possible that her womanly
intuition had deserted her upon that occasion, so
that she suspected nothing? If she knev/ the con-
tents of the Captain's missive she gave no sign.
Maybe she did not care. Perhaps, even now, she
might be closeted v/ith Major Reynolds, praying for
his success and bidding him Godspeed. Why not?
Had she not been the Major's friend from child-
hood? Did not the gossips say that it v/as the
Major who had recently induced her to lay aside
the sable gowns she had worn for years as a tribute
to one long dead? And did they not predict that
THE CARPETBAGGER 173
this change was soon to be followed by the donning
of orange-blossoms and the bridal veil? And yet
there was the rose — her rose — upon his coat lapel!
A queer whistle, like the call of a whippoorwill,
among the trees near by, ended the Governor's
reverie abruptly and brought him to his feet. He
listened intently. There v/as no sound save the soft
soughing of the wind arhong the branches overhead.
"A v/hippoorwill?" he ejaculated, incredulously.
"Down here? I never heard one here before.
Didn't think there was one in the whole state of
Mississippi." He picked up the sabers. The
whistle was repeated. This time there could be no
mistake — it was plainly a crude imitation of the
whippoorwill's note, but no one whose boyhood
was passed upon a northern farm would have been
deceived by it. The old Carpetbagger smiled.
"That sounds to me more like love than war," he
remarked, as he stepped back among the dark
magnolia shadows to await developments. "I
thought so," he added, half a minute later, as the
174 THE CARPETBAGGER
boyish figure of Roy came into view on the oppo-
site side of the grassy plot.
By halting stages the young "Indian fighter," ad-
vanced into the open, whistling repeatedly and lis-
tening in vain for an answering signal.
"This is the place, all right," he exclaimed, glanc-
ing about him apprehensively, as if afraid of the
shadows. "Now, where is she? 'Tain't right to
treat a fellow like this — whistling around in the
woods. By jingo! Maybe she is playing a trick
on me and expects me to stay out here all night!
If I thought she was, I'd never speak to her again
as long as I live!"
His courage plainly was fast oozing out at his
finger tips and he was about to beat an ignominious
retreat. A low whippoorwill whistle near by
brought him to a sudden halt. "There she is now!"
he cried, darting forward. The Governor stepped
out into the moonlight.
"Great Scott! It's the old man!" gasped Roy,
jumping behind the oak. "And he's got a sword,
too." He peered around the trunk, cautiously.
THE CARPETBAGGER 175
"Good Lord! He's got two swords!" A moment
later he had clambered hastily up the tree and
snugly ensconced himself among the leafy branches.
Below him stood a tall figure with a glittering saber
in either hand.
MOVING THE MENAGERIE
The unexpected advent of Roy upon the scene
immediately changed the aspect of affairs and
proved a welcome diversion for the Governor,
whose sides shook with suppressed laughter as he
saw the young lover's frantic attempt to avoid de-
tection. The impending duel was forgotten in-
stantly; tragedy gave way to comedy.
"I'm sorry I scared that bird away," he remarked
aloud, for the youngster's benefit. "Whippoorwills
are so scarce down here, he would have been a fine
addition to Nellie's pets." He paused to whistle
the whippoorwill call softly a few times. "Too
bad!" he continued. "He's gone. I'd like to catch
him. If we can't do that, I'll shoot him and have
him stuffed." Above him, his face blanched with
terror, Roy hugged the oak as tightly as its own
bark. Suddenly, upon the still night air, there came
THE CARPETBAGGER 177
an answering call, a weak, uncertain, tremulous
whippoorwill note from the other end of the garden.
"Hello! He's over there now!" exclaimed the
Governor, his eyes twinkling with humor. "Won-
der if I can't call him back." Again and again he
whistled. The answering call grew near and nearer.
A few minutes later, a white dress stood out in bold
relief among the dark shadows of the magnolias and
Nellie timidly stepped into the moonlight.
The Carpetbagger looked at her and chuckled
with amusement. Her arms were filled with band-
boxes, parcels and packages. In one hand, she car-
ried a green parrot in a cage; in the other, a long,
perforated box, the temporary home of a pet alli-
gator. At her heels trotted the big, white bulldog,
Bulger. She whistled softly; an answer came from
behind the oak. "Ah! There you are!" she criedj
excitedly, hurrying forward. The Governor put
down his sabers and advanced to meet her. "Yes,"
he replied, quietly. There was a scream of con-
sternation; the bird-cage, boxes and packages were
dropped in indiscriminate confusion and Bulger
added to the excitement by barking furiously.
178 THE CARPETBAGGER
"You've — you've dropped something, I think,"
remarked the Governor, kindly.
The frightened child made no reply.
"Moving?" he asked, quizzically.
"N— no, sir."
"Um! What are you doing?"
"I— I— don't know, sir."
"You don't know!" exclaimed the Carpetbagger,
in mock astonishment. "That's bad. That's
mighty bad. A girl v/ho goes out alone at this time
of night ought to know what she is doing."
A soft, round arm went up across Nellie's eyes and
she began to cry softly. "I — I — wasn't going very
far," she sobbed; ''and I was coming right back."
"Well, don't you think you have gone far
enough now? Aren't you about ready to go back?"
A choking sob was the only answer. The old
man softened. There was a kindly note of serious-
ness in his voice as he laid his hand on her shoulder
and said: "Little one, it's all right. Don't cry.
Everything is all right. You've always trusted me;
trust me now. Will you?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 179
She was in his arms in an instant, weeping as if
her heart would break. "There, there, there," he
said, soothingly, as he patted her blonde locks.
"The heart of a young girl is not a safe guide to
the maze of matrimony. The flutterings of your
own little heart have filled your head with romantic
nonsense. V/ait. When you are a little older your
head and your heart will lead you aright. You
mustn't do this, my child. There is no romance in
dishonor, and the path you have chosen to-night
might lead you there."
He paused. The child nestling within his arms
had sobbed herself into submission. *T was coming
right back," she repeated, humbly.
"My poor, motherless girl!" he continued.
"How could you know? God grant you may be
happy in a good man's love! But the man who
would be your husband must lead you to the altar,
not wait for you in the dark."
Was it the wind that sighed so deeply among
the branches overhead?
"Now, then," continued the Carpetbagger, bright-
180 THE CARPETBAGGER
ening, "go back. Here's your menagerie." He
handed her the parrot and the ahigator as he spoke
and began loading her arms with parcels.
''But no more of this. Understand?"
"No, sir," was the ready response. "Never! I'll
never speak to that boy again as long as I live. He
didn't come, anyway!"
The wind no longer sighed among the oak
leaves — it groaned.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," laughed the Governor.
"I wouldn't say that. Good-night." He turned
her face toward him in the moonlight and kissed
her v/armly, tenderly, reverently. "Good-night, my
child. Good-night and pleasant dreams."
He watched her until she disappeared from view.
Then he picked up the sabers. "Captain," he said,
quietly, "come down."
There was a moment of silence and then a scared
voice amid the overhanging branches tremulously
"Is— is it all right?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 181
"I guess SO," cheerily replied the Governor.
"What do you want up there, anyway?"
"I want — to come down."
The Carpetbagger laughed. "Is that why you
went up?" he asked.
"I didn't know but it might be a little healthier
for me up here."
"Are you hunting Indians, to-night, Cap?"
"No — my commission hasn't got here yet."
"Come down." Roy did so, rather sheepishly.
The Carpetbagger suddenly stepped out into the
moonlight and looked at his watch. "Roy," he said,
hurriedly, "I like you. I want you to do what is
right. Will you?"
"On the word of a gentleman. Governor — "
"And a soldier?"
The old man extended his hand and Roy grasped
"If you love Nellie you can afford to wait for her,
182 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Till your mother gives her consent."
"Will you give yours then?"
"Mine may not be necessary." The Governor
glanced about him. 'T am willing to leave the
matter entirely in her hands. Isn't it about your
"Governor, you are a trump!" cried Roy, ex-
citedly. "And I want to say to you, sir, that I
would do anything in the world for you."
"Thank you. Good-night. Go to bed."
"Just as soon as she says 'yes,' Governor?"
"I'll get an answer from her inside of ten minutes.
Good-night. I'll see you in the morning. Good-
night." And the excited youngster was away like
a shot. A dry twig snapped among the magnolias
near by and the Governor turned with a start. The
commanding figure of Major Reynolds stepped into
view, halted and gave a formal military salute.
"You are punctual, sir," he said. "I thank you."
A BAD WAY TO SPRINKLE THE LAWN
It had been a day of unusual excitement, and the
evening developed so many stirring incidents that
Mrs. Fairburn found it impossible to think of sleep.
Long after Governor Crance had left her at her
own door and had bidden her good-night, she sat
in an easy chair, upon the broad veranda, rapt in
meditation. It was a perfect midsummer night and
her thoughts were busy with the murder of Wiley
Jones, the arrest of Old John Reynolds, the devotion
of his aged wife and the probable efifect of their im-
prisonment upon the Major's canvass. She had
seen the awakening of a new and generous impulse
in the Governor and wondered whither it would
lead. In the midst of her reflections, one fact con-
tinually obtruded itself — the visit of Captain Pointer.
She knew that he was a trusted lieutenant of Major
Reynolds and one of the confidential advisers of his
184 THE CARPETBAGGER
campaign. What business could he have with his
leader's arch enemy?
As the night wore on, an irresistible feeling of
unrest seized her, a vague sense of impending
danger, a presentiment of approaching peril. Again
and again, she paced up and down the long portico,
occasionally stopping to lean against its stately pil-
lars, intent to catch any unusual sight or sound.
Far over in the town, the big bell of a church steeple
tolled the hour of midnight. As its last note died
away, her quick eye detected a dark figure moving
among the shadows of the garden. Swiftly it drew
nearer, and a few moments later she was astonished
to recognize the familiar features of Roy. As he
sprang up the steps she confronted him. The "sol-
dier" uttered a cry of surprise and sank into a chair
in speechless confusion,
"What's tlie matter?" she anxiously inquired.
"What has happened? Where have you been?"
''I — I want to get married," gasped the youngster.
"The Governor is willing — whenever you say so."
THE CARPETBAGGER 185
She caught him by the arm and turned him about
sharply so that the moonhght fell full upon his face.
"Are you asleep?" she demanded, giving him a
gentle shake. "Are you dreaming? Where have
He motioned helplessly toward the Governor's
garden. "Over there," he said, laconically.
"In — in the garden. He's given his consent — as
soon as you say so."
"The Governor? Governor Crance?"
Roy nodded vigorously. "I just left him and he
says it's all right."
"He says what's all right? Where did you see
"Over there," making a comprehensive sweep
with his arm toward the neighboring grounds.
"At this time of night?"
"What were you doing there?"
186 THE CARPETBAGGER
The young "soldier" maintained a discreet si-
"What was the Governor doing?"
"Nothing?" she echoed. "At this time of night?"
Suddenly she grasped the boy's arm tightly. "Was
he alone?" she demanded. ''Did you see anyone
else? Was he waiting for somebody?"
Roy nodded, bashfully. "He was waiting for me,
I guess," he said. "Anyway, he had a couple of
Mrs. Fairburn threw over her head the light wrap
she had worn about her shoulders. "Quick!" she
cried. "Show me the way. I'll follow you."
When Governor Crance found himself face to face
with Major Reynolds he actually experienced a feel-
ing of relief. He was glad that at last the high
pressure period of suspense was to be broken. With
a courteous salutation he threw the two sabers upon
the ground. "Take your pick," he said. "I don't
think you'll find much difference between them."
THE CARPETBAGGER 187
The Major drew off his gloves and carefully laid
them down with his hat. Then he removed his
coat, folded it neatly, and picked up one of the
weapons. The Carpetbagger carelessly threw aside
his hat and coat and began to roll up his shirt
"This is a bad way, Major, to sprinkle the lawn,"
he remarked, grimly, as he seized the remaining
"I haven't come here, sir, to talk," said the Major.
"Well, I have," responded the Governor, the
point of his weapon resting upon the greensward.
"I want to tell you something. I didn't seek this
thing. You have forced it on me. If you insist on
going ahead with it now, I'm going to kill you."
The Major smiled.
"And I'm going to kill you," continued the Car-
petbagger, "not because I want to, but because I've
The Major's saber cut a glistening circle in the
moonlight as he gave a military salute with it.
"Take your position, sir," he said. A moment later
188 THE CARPETBAGGER
there was a sharp flash of fire as the tv/o weapons
met in midair with a clang that re-echoed through
the little grove. The two men were not equally
matched. In point of physical strength Major Rey-
nolds outclassed his antagonist, although the latter
had more agility and greater nervous force. No
time was lost in petty preliminaries. The Major
went at his work as if he were in a hurry to get
through a disagreeable task, and the Governor's
saber seemed as eager as his own. Though the
Carpetbagger repeatedly broke ground and gave
way before the superior strength of his adversary his
shiftiness made him a dangerous antagonist and the
Major frequently fought upon the defensive. Not
a word was spoken and no sound broke the stillness
of the hour save the swish of the circling blades
and the clang of opposing steel. Suddenly a wom-
an's startled cry rang out, there was a rustle of
silken skirts among the magnolias and Mrs. Fair-
burn ran toward the duellists. Straight between
them she rushed, her white hands upraised as if to
part the angry weapons. The two men recoiled in-
THE CARPETBAGGER 189
stinctively; she seemed to throw them apart as a
strong man might separate two street urchins en-
gaged at fisticuffs.
"Gentlemen!" she cried. It was both a command
and an entreaty. "Put up your swords!"
Neither man moved.
"You may be enemies of each other. You are
both friends of mine. Put up your swords."
There was no answer save the soft soughing of
the wind among the trees.
"Were not four years of this enough?" she con-
tinued. "Is this soil still thirsty for blood? Have
you forgotten that peace has come? Governor, you
are a man of sober judgment. I am sure that you
did not seek this of your own accord; I am certain
that an appeal to your reason will lead you out of it.
Put up your sword."
The Carpetbagger glanced at his antagonist, but
he saw in those cold gray eyes nothing but impla-
"Major," pleaded the woman between them,
"you may regard this man as a political enemy; but
190 THE CARPETBAGGER
if you had seen what I saw to-night, you would es-
teem him as your personal friend. As soon as he
learned of the indignity that had been put upon
your father and your old mother, he ordered their
release, and, even against your father's protest, sent
them home in his own carriage, and ordered them
to be set down at their own door. This was not
the scheme of a political enemy. Major, but the
act of an honorable, compassionate man."
The Southerner's grasp relaxed.
"If you still believe that, because you are political
antagonists, you must be personal foes," she added,
'T will not ask you to shake hands; but, gentle-
men — "
The Major's weapon fell upon the grass at the
widow's feet with the Governor's saber across it.
THE BOY AT THE SPRING
No account of the duel, to be blown about the
streets and into the secluded corners of private life,
came to the active gossips of the town. The Major
was silent, Pointer was a Sphynx, Governor Crance
held the secret, and the discreet widow put a hush-r
stamp upon the lips of the "Indian fighter." The
penetrative Willetts knew that something must hav^
occurred, but he could get no farther than the
threshold of it; and there was but one thoroughly
disgusted man who had, either remotely or other-
wise, contributed to the affair — the farmer who had
furnished the Major with horses. Early next morn-
ing he sent a field hand to the railway station to gCi
a daily newspaper, being so anxious that he could
not wait for his regular budget, the weekly. He
even strode forth from his unfinished breakfast to
meet the man on the road. Seizing the paper he
192 THE CARPETBAGGER
leaned against a tree, to give himself more comfort
in his expected enjoyment, and began to search
eagerly for the welcome news of the Carpetbagger's
death. His eye swept column after column; he
shifted his position and continued his search ; a pain-
ful look settled upon his face, and crumpling the
paper, he threw it upon the ground and stamped
"Dave," said he, "I want you to go right up to
town this minute and fetch them horses back. But
come to the house first with me. I want to write
a letter to Reynolds."
He was but poorly equipped to express his feel-
ings with a pen, but his daughter was abundantly
able, having gone through a school taught by a
maiden lady of sour aspect; so she served as a trans-
mitter of the old man's wrath. "Sir," he began,
with instructions to make the word heavy and in-
sulting, "Sir, when a man tells me that he will do
a thing I expect him to do it. You have imposed
on me; you have obtained horses under false pre-
tenses. And I want to say that a man who would
THE CARPETBAGGER 193
SO work on my confiding nature is not much better
than a Carpetbagger. I made a speech in youi:
favor at the barbecue down on the bayou. I said
you were a man of the people, our redemption, and
so on. I would have swum a river to vote for you,
but the Lord forbid that I should do it now. You.
send me them horses as fast as you can. They
have never been known to balk, but there's no
telling what they will do after you have handled
them. Major, I know your father and I could not
have believed it of you. I did not know it was in
your blood to deceive a man at a time when it was
easy to work on his feelings. This is all I have got
to say, or ever will have to say to you. Send me
The season had sobered and browned ; the flowers
were dead and the leaves on the fig-trees in the
gardens were dusty. The town was drowsy with
the heat, and many of the well-to-do folk had gone
to the springs in the hills, but the legislature was
still busy, or pretended to be, grinding out new
measures and repealing older ones. The season's
194 THE CARPETBAGGER
first bale of cotton had come in — the premature ad-
vance of the coming crop, picked here and there in
the fields — and was hauled about town on a deco-
rated wagon, driven by a negro with the plume of
an iron weed in his hat, to the noise of a bell, vig-
orously rung by a boy who sat at the tail of the
vehicle. This was done every year, but it always
was an important event, cotton being the basis of all
prosperity and the fabric of antebellum aristocracy.
The merchant, hearing the bell, rushed to his door
to gaze out; the lawyers lounging about the court-
rooms left their musty proceedings to look from the
windows, and even the sprinkling cart, driven by
an '^oflficial" and therefore an unaccommodating
man, turned out that the cotton wagon might pass.
The election was drawing near and the wire-
workers were busy. News was daily brought in
from all parts of the state and every one looked
forward to the day of reckoning, sure to come. For
a time after the afifair beneath the magnolias in his
garden, the Governor kept himself more at home,
not that he was apprehensive of unusual danger,
THE CARPETBAGGER 195
for the word "fear" had been omitted from the
lexicon of his youth and had not been inserted in
the unabridged dictionary of his poHtical Hfe, but
because he appeared more than ever to worry under
the trials of office and the annoyances of the "log-
rollers" who daily beset him. Often they swarmed
about the house, knowing or feeling that his time
was short, and therefore hoping to push their selfish
schemes to fruition before his fall, but Jim turned
them away with the warning to stay away, as the
Governor was very busy. Occasionally at the cool-
ing end of the day, the old man would go out for a
quiet walk, choosing a way that led into the coun-
try. He took great pleasure in looking upon the
ripening crops. Sometimes, preserving a strict in-
cognito, he would walk beside a laborer, going
home from his toil, and would talk to him as one
who understood and sympathized. Once at a
spring by the roadside, he came upon a half-grown
boy, sitting thoughtfully upon a stone. The Gov-
ernor sat down and opened up a conversation with
"Do you live far from here?" he asked.
"Over yonder," the boy answered, rubbing his
"I suppose your folks are all interested in the
"I reckon so, but I don't pay much attention to
it. I'm trying to learn something, so I won't have
to dig in the ground all my lifetime."
"Ah," said the Governor, "that's laudable."
"It's what?" the boy asked. The Governor re-
peated the word and the youngster seemed to make
a mental note of it ; it had evidently struck his fancy
as a bit of learning, a bit of something that might
help to keep him from digging in the ground, and
he repeated it over and over to himself. After a
time, under the Governor's kindly inquiry, he be-
came communicative. He had walked into the
neighborhood, he said, looking for work, and had
engaged himself to a farmer. He hoped to get
enough money to take him through school during
the coming winter. His main trouble was that he
couldn't get the books he needed; there were no
books in the farmer's house. He had spent his last
THE CARPETBAGGER 197
penny for a worn history of the United States, wHich
he found in a shop in the city, and he was afraid
that he had gone beyond his means.
"How much does the farmer pay you?" the Gov-
The boy moved about uneasily on the stone. "I'm
afraid I didn't make a very good bargain," said he.
"I agreed to work a while and then let him fix the
price; but he hasn't said anything about it, and
whenever I mention it he always says 'there will be
time enough for that'."
"Where are you from?" the Governor asked.
The boy waved his hand. "From away off yon-
"Have you any relatives living?"
"No, sir; my mother died a long time ago and
my father was killed in the army."
It was of little use to ask him which army. His
accent was of the South. "In what command?" the
"Second Alabama Cavalry."
The Carpetbagger started. One of the sabers thai
198 THE CARPETBAGGER
he had taken out into the moonhght a few nights
before had belonged to a member of that command.
He asked no more questions, but somehow he fan-
cied that in the boy there was a resemblance of a
man whose dead hand had gripped one of those
swords. He looked far away, at the dusk of even-
ing, gathering low down beneath the trees in the
woods. "If you had money enough you could go
away and find a better place, couldn't you?" he
"Yes, sir; but it won't do to think about that."
"I take you to be honest?"
"Honest?" the boy repeated, and the Governor
knew that his inquiry was answered. "Yes, sir, I
think I am. Without honesty there wouldn't be
much need for learning or anything else. No, sir;
I don't want anything that don't belong to me."
"My boy," said the Governor, "I am going to
"Will you?" he asked, brightening. "Have you
got any work for me to do?"
**No; but I have a little money and I am going
THE CARPETBAGGER 199
to give it to you." He took some bank notes out of
his pocket. "Here's forty dollars or so. Take it;
you are welcome to it." The boy got up, stagger-
ing, but he did not reach forth his hand. "Take it.
I think I knew your father — maybe not, but some-
thing strikes me that I did. Take it; it's yours."
The child did not move, but stood gazing at him.
"Take it and go North where work is more re-
spected. There is no hope for a community where
work is looked down upon." The Governor held
out the money again, but still the boy did not stir.
He seemed to be afraid — afraid, perhaps, that he
was dreaming and would soon awake to feel the
dread ache of disappointment.
"But I don't know you, sir," he finally managed
to stammer, "and perhaps it wouldn't be right for
"Nonsense, my child ! You needn't have any fear.
It's all right. I am the Governor of this state."
The boy recoiled as if he had received a blow jn
the face. The glad light in his eyes died out. With-
out a word he turned around and walked rapidly
FACE TO FACE WITH HIMSELF
When he reached home, Jim was Hghting the
hanging lamp in the hall. The old negro shook his
head dubiously. It was not often that he ventured
to give advice to his master; but now he was em-
boldened to offer the opinion that it was imprudent
on the Governor's part to walk out alone and to
remain so long. The Carpetbagger smiled at the
negro's caution. "That's all right, Jim," said he.
"A man can't die till his time comes."
"I doan know 'bout dat, sah," Jim replied, shov-
ing the lamp up as high as he could reach and then
steadying the swinging chain. "I doan know 'bout
dat. He mout not die till his time come; but he
doan know how soon it gwine t' come, an' dar ain't
no use gwine outen yo' way t' 'vite it t' come."
The Governor passed on into the drawing room,
where dark portraits of long-forgotten faces, painted
THE CARPETBAGGER 201
by Strolling Frenchmen, hung shadov/y in the twi-
light. The house had not been built for an execu-
tive mansion, but was much more commodious than
those usually set apart by legislatures for such pur-
poses, having been the home of a very old family
the last member of which had perished in the war.
The estate was now in chancery, in more senses
than one, the Governor's enemies often declared.
He sat down near a window looking out across the
yard toward the street and mused upon the happy
and stately gatherings that must have been held in
that room when the old South ruled the nation.
There was one picture that had a fascination for
him, that of a young man on a horse, surrounded
by a group of negroes. It was a picture of the
olden time, and it told of a day whose sun was for-
ever set — a day that he himself had helped to go out,
not v/ith a lingering light of gold in the west, but to
grow dark and die in a cloud. What a contrast to
his own youth! How proud and happy was the
face of the boy, and how full of admiration were the
countenances of the negroes ! Jim came in to light
202 THE CARPETBAGGER
"You needn't light up just yet," hastily inter-
posed the Governor. "I — I like the darkness.
Leave me alone."
Long he sat there rapt in meditation. The twi-
light shadows deepened about him. One by one the
pictures faded out and the walls grew black. Low
in the v/est a single star blazed fiercely just above
the tops of the dark magnolias, which seemed to
reach up- to the sky.
"Who lighted that star?" he asked aloud, and
started at the sound of his own voice. To his high-
wrought imagination it seemed like a friendly sig-
nal fire, a heavenly beacon-light set to shape the
wavering course of one who otherwise might go
astray. "It doesn't give much light," he solilo-
quized, "but a man doesn't need much light to steer
by if he really tries to go straight ahead."
Big Jim, perplexed and v/orried by the long con-
tinued silence in the darkened room, several times
opened the door slightly; but no voice bade him
enter and he softly withdrew in deeper anxiety than
ever, The Governor was fighting the battle of his
THE CARPETBAGGER 203
life. Shrouded by the kindly mantle of darkness
he was squaring accounts with his own soul and,
figure the problem as he would, he could not strike
an honorable trial balance except by crediting him- .
self with a sacrifice such as no man in his position
ever made before. It was a long, hard-fought
battle. When it was ended, the Governor's furrowed
cheeks were wet; but his personal accounts had been
"Mistah Willetts wants t' see yo', sah," suddenly
announced Jim, evidently delighted by any legiti-
mate excuse to interrupt the long silence. It was
some time before the Governor made answer. When
at last he did so, there was an unwonted note of
firmness in his voice.
"Let him come in," he said.
"Shall I light up, sah?"
Willetts was greatly surprised when he found
himself thrust forward into a room which was pitch
dark save for a few straggling rays from a window
which merely served to accentuate the blackness on
204 THE CARPETBAGGER
"What are you doing?" he cried, familiarly.
"Playing 'Love in the Dark'?"
"Find a chair and sit down," said a stern voice
near the window. "Now, then, what do you want?"
"I called at the office several times this after-
noon. Governor, but didn't find you in," Willetts
began, "so I thought I'd run up for a few minutes
There was no response, except an inarticulate
grunt from the darkness, which might have meant
anything or nothing.
"The election is drawing near," continued the
log-roller after a brief pause, "and the opposition is
putting up so hot a fight that we can't afford to
overlook a bet. It won't do to take any chances
this time. I've been talking the matter over with
some of the boys and we've rather agreed that the
safest way for us is to handle the voting right from
the start. A few soldiers stationed around each bal-
lot-box would make the matter easy enough for us.
Early in the day a few men ought to get shot — poor
white trash would probably fill the bill all right.
THE CARPETBAGGER 205
Of course, we could show, you know, that there was
an attempt made to seize the ballot-box and that
the soldiers were forced to fire upon the mob to
preserve the purity of the elective franchise. The
effect would be immense."
Here Willetts slapped himself on the leg and
laughed uproariously, as if he were thoroughly en-
joying a good joke. But he had a monopoly of the
merriment. "Better look after this, right away,"
he added, when his hilarity had subsided. "Have
Lummers draw up an order for the troops to-
morrow morning and start the ball rolling."
"And there's another matter, too," he went on.
"We must have a fair and square returning-board
to pass upon the election results. There is bound
to be a good deal of illegal voting and a great many
votes will have to be thrown out — some of the re-
turns probably will have to be suppressed entirely
— because of fraud, you understand. We've got
to have the right men on that board."
"Humph!" growled the Carpetbagger. Willetts
waited for him to say something further, but waited
in vain and at length resumed the topic himself.
206 THE CARPETBAGGER
*The boys have gone over the whole ground
pretty completely," he said, "and we're rather de-
cided that Representative Felton would be a good
man for you to name. He owes his election to you
and he's after an appointment for his son-in-law, so
he could be relied upon to stand by us. Then, there
is Old Man Dabney. His seat is contested and he
wouldn't dare go back on us. And the boys insist
that I ought to take the third place myself. Per-
sonally, I'd rather have nothing to do with it, of
course, but they seem to have set their minds on it
and simply won't take 'no' for an answer. So I
finally have told them that in deference to their
wishes I'd waive my own feelings in the matter and
would — "
"Jim!" called the Governor. The door was flung
open instantly and a black giant stood framed in
"Show Mr. Willetts out"
DRAWING HIM OUT
There was consternation in the camp of the Car-
petbaggers. Willetts had lost no time in passing the
word along the hne that trouble was brewing. A
caucus was hastily held in the gambler's rooms to
consider the situation and map out a plan of action.
"All I can say is that the old man is acting
queer," said Willetts, "and things begin to look
squally. I can't account for it," he added, "unless
he's gone wrong here," tapping his forehead sig-
nificantly. "He must know that he can't scuttle the
ship now without going down with us."
"It looks to me," said the Speaker of the House,
a large, bald man with a deep voice, ears that stood
out prominently and a nose that looked as if it
had often suffered from frost-bite, "it looks to me as
if Crance has struck something pretty good up
North and is preparing to pull up stakes here and
"Well, if that's so," chimed in Willetts, "the
quicker we find it out the better."
"Why not plump it right at him?" suggested the
Secretary of State, a tall, spare man with small eyes
and a ministerial bearing.
"Good!" cried Willetts, with sarcastic emphasis.
"You do it. I've had one seance with him and I'm
"We've got to get at him, some way, right off,"
commented the Speaker. "Why not get up a little
dinner, invite him there and make him show his
This struck the conferees as the most feasible
scheme, and, within a few hours, Governor Crance
received a cordial invitation to dine with several
gentlemen, that night, in one of the private ban-
queting rooms of the leading hotel.
The old Carpetbagger smiled. "No," he said,
"I'm not at all hungry."
"But," it was urged, "there are many things to
discuss before the election and a dinner party would
aflford an excellent opportunity for an exchange of
THE CARrETBAGGER 209
"Ah, that is a horse of another color," exclaimed
the Governor. "If that's what you want, come up
to the house to-night and take dinner with me."
And so the matter was settled.
Shortly after nightfall, the chief cogs of the carpet-
bag machine began to gather at the gubernatorial
mansion. The Governor met them at the door and
received them graciously. He shook hands with
them, laughed and chatted, as if the whole election
v/ere a huge joke and he the point of it all. Then
he bowed them into the old, black-walnut dining
room where the dinner was served. At the foot of
the table, opposite the Governor, sat Willetts. At
the Carpetbagger's right was the State Auditor. He
had been at the head of an insurance company, and
report said that he did not care to return to the
scene of his former operations. To him this life
was a game, and everything that he could lay
hands on without detection, and sometimes even
with it, was fairly won. He and the Governor had
been rather intimate, though of late they had been
seen less together, and it had been said by a member
210 THE CARPETBAGGER
of the House that the Auditor had recently referred
to the "old man" as a "fool, juggling with his
chances." At the Governor's left sat a militia of-
ficer, resplendent in uniform and with a mild con-
tempt for all civilians.
The dinner started out stupidly, with low conver-
sation and the tip-toeing of servants. The talk was
mainly grunts and acquiescences, nods and more
grunts — the gathering of tired men, the half-
hearted feeding of feverish stomachs, the closing
scene of a long dissipation; but there is often an
enlivening revival at the end of a dull debauch, and
when the wine had been passed and tossed off time
after time there was more animation. The Gov-
ernor drank but little; he livened up, though, with
the rest and joined in the noisy talk. They could
hear Jim pacing slowly up and down the veranda.
Nellie and Roy peeped in at the door, Nellie seeing
the whole company, but the boy seeing nothing but
the militia officer. Rain was falling. They heard it
pattering on the dusty leaves.
"Has any one seen Old Man Reynolds since Jiis
THE CARPETBAGGER 211
release from jail?" asked the Speaker. The Gov-
ernor frowned over his wine; but the Speaker took
no notice of it. "I don't quite agree with you,
Governor, in that afifair," he added, with a laugh.
"The old man is innocent," the Governor replied.
"But how do you know?" the Secretary put in.
"The courts haven't decided and the whole case
floats in mid air. The authorities seem afraid to
"It will probably always remain a mystery," said
The Speaker did not think that it was a mystery.
Nearly everything rested upon evidence, he said,
and evidence was strong against the old man.
The Governor looked at him and his eye was as
searching as a camera, but he said nothing; he was
thinking of the boy whom he had seen at the
"The Northern papers have taken up the matter,"
said the Speaker. "They say that if that's the way
we are going to reconstruct — "
"Drop it," the Governor broke in, ''Have some
212 THE CARPETBAGGER
"But, really, Governor, it ought to be cleared up."
"It is cleared up, so far as that old man is con-
cerned," said the Governor. "I don't give a snap
for all the evidence you can bring."
The Speaker smiled. "Then what do you give a
"The truth, sir."
"Well, how are we going to get at it?"
"We have got it now; the old man told it."
Willetts objected. He yielded to no man in re
spect for Old John Reynolds, he said, but he be
lieved that sentiment should cut no figure in suet
a case. "Wiley Jones," he added, "was my friend
He did me many a good turn and I naturally feel hi^
death very keenly. The only person who has even
been suspected of this crime is a free man to-day
and that, too, without establishing his innocence in
court. I do not say that Reynolds killed Jones —
what I believe doesn't matter, perhaps — but some-
body killed him. If the old man didn't, who did?"
Here the militia officer gave his opinion. All
civil courts were humbugs. If you want justice you
THE CARPETBAGGER 213
must go to the drum-head rather than to the bar.
Men who made money by deaHng out "justice"
were necessarily corrupt, or at least full of tricks,
the same as you would find it in any other business.
What the entire country needed was a military gov-
ernment. When was England greatest and most
feared by the nations of the earth? When the helm
of state was grasped by the iron hand of Cromwell.
The Secretary, being a lawyer b}' profession, took
issue with him. The Auditor, being an industrious
drinker, proposed a song. He said a song was more
convincing than an argument. The Speaker
thought that they ought to look seriously at the
coming political crisis. "The election is almost
here, you know."
"So it is,"" remarked the Governor. The Auditor
wanted to know whether or not all the judges had
been appointed and whether or not they could sing.
The Auditor was drunk. The Speaker hoped that
they might sing the right tune and in the right key.
He looked at the Governor, expecting him to say
something, but he did not. The Auditor began to
214 THE CARPETBAGGER
sing. The Speaker called him to order. "Wait a
moment," he cried. "We are on a serious subject
now. You must remember that we've got a govern-
ment on our shoulders."
"You must want to be re-elected," said the Audit-
or. '*I don't care how it goes. I want to go back to
Wisconsin and catch some fish. Say, I've got a
place on a lake there that's full of fish — muskel-
longe as long as a barrel stave. Let's all sing
'Home, Sweet- — "
"Shut up; do be serious for a mom.ent, won't
"Oh, I've been serious long enough. I was shot
at the other day and that was serious enough. Gov-
ernor, that's good wine — must have found it in the
cellar here. Everybody sing."
The dinner was to have been a "business meet-
ing," but it seemed to be drifting away from its
original purpose. Why a militia officer, a stranger
who had no possible interest in their afifairs should
have been invited, the Speaker could not make clear
unto himself. It was to have been a political con-
ference, the discussion of vital interests, and why
THE CARPETBAGGER 215
the Governor was so free with his wine, the Sec-
retary could not make out. Formerly such occa-
sions had been feasts of state where important
matters were discussed and disposed of and the
heads of all the departments had been present to
receive advice and instruction. There may have
been songs, but no one would have dared to pro-
pose such a thing until the hour had grown too
mellow for business. The Governor would not only
have frowned upon it, but would have shut the
door upon the offender. Now he laughed when
the Auditor broke in upon every attempt to get
down to business.
Jim paced up and down the veranda, and Nellie
and Roy took an occasional peep into the dining
room, the boy, wide-eyed in admiration of the mi-
"In this life, who is it that deserves success?"
said the Speaker.
Some one replied "the honest man," and there
was a good-humored laugh. All eyes were. turned
upon the Governor, but he did not even smile.
216 THE CARPETBAGGER
"The honest man may be incompetent," said the
Speaker. "Honesty isn't everything. Ability
stands at the head of all virtues, in my opinion.
Simple honesty may get one and one's friends into
trouble; therefore honesty may be dangerous. No,
sir; the man who plays his cards for all they are
worth is the man who ought to win — in a political
contest, for instance." He fixed his gaze on the
Governor, who sat dreaming in a cloud of smoke.
"I claim the man who is out for the stuff," said the
Speaker, "is the fellow who ought to succeed. It
is foolish for any one to throw away his own
chances. When he throws away the chances of his
friends, also, it is a crime." He fixed his gaze on
The chief executive brightened suddenly. *T was
out in the country to-day and I found excellent
prospects for the coming crop," said he.
"A crime, I repeat," said the Speaker.
"This rain comes in good time," the Governor
remarked, pufifing his cigar.
"We saw the crop planted, but who will witness
THE CARPETBAGGER 217
the harvesting thereof?" said the Secretary, and the
observation suited the gravity of his countenance.
"I don't think I shall," spoke up the Auditor,
unsteady of head. "I feel myself slipping."
"None of us need to slip if the right thing is
done," said the Speaker, significantly.
The Governor laid down his cigar and arose.
"Gentlemen," he quietly remarked, "as the hour is
growing late and you soon will have to leave us,
perhaps it might interest you to know before going
home that I have picked out the three members of
the returning-board, which v/ill pass upon the re-
sults of the forthcoming election."
A chorus of suppressed "Ahs" went up from
all sides of the table.
"The first man I have chosen," he continued, "is
Captain Jerome Pointer of Gum Springs."
"He's a Reynolds man!" shouted Willetts, ex-
"The second," calmly proceeded the Carpet-
bagger, "is Prof. Willis Maynard, state superin-
tendent of public instruction."
218 THE CARPETBAGGER
The diners looked at each other in blank amaze-
ment. "He isn't a poHtician, at all," exclaimed
the Secretary. "Shut up!" cried the Auditor, vainly
trying- to untangle his tongue. "If he's an office
holder you can bet he's all right."
"And the third is a gentleman whom you all
know and respect — Rev. Jacob Williams of the First
Baptist church of this city."
Pandemonium broke loose in a moment. Amid
the babel the Governor stood, smiling, until com-
parative quiet was restored. Then he raised his
hand with a commanding gesture. "Gentlemen,"
he said, "I must now bid you good-night." Growl-
ing, muttering and cursing, the little party broke up
in great confusion. There was no form.al leave-
At the door the Governor touched the militia
ofiicer's sleeve. *'Wait," he said. A few moments
later, when they were alone, the Carpetbagger
handed the officer a fresh cigar and lighted one for
himself. "Colonel," he said, "to-morrow you will
receive from the Adjutant General your orders con-
THE CARPETBAGGER 219
cerning the disposition of troops at the polls. That
there may be no misunderstanding I want to sup-
plement those orders now by a few verbal instruc-
tions. You will detail two men for service at each
polling place. You will instruct them to preserve
order and prevent all demonstrations. You will
also instruct them not to approach within a radius
of three hundred feet from the ballot boxes. And
you will order them to arrest any man who in any
way, directly or indirectly, seeks to interfere with
the right of every citizen to cast his vote as he
pleases. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir; but—"
"You may omit the 'but'. There is no 'but' in
this order. And if it is not carried out to the letter
I shall hold you personally responsible. Do you
The Colonel gave a formal military salute. "I
always obey orders from headquarters," he said, as
he arose to go.
THE GOVERNOR MEETS THE "bAD MAN "
Many a wise man has given himself over to the
study of his own conscience, surprising himself with
its many phases and unexpected complexions. And
he who buffets the world and has in turn been
buffeted by it, finds himself gazing into a kaleido-
scope when he turns his eye inward ; the colors may
not be bright, but the shapes are many. It is hard
for the honest man to find that he himself is disinter-
estedly honest. At one moment he may believe
that he is so, but the fragments that go to make up
his conscience tumble apart, readjust themselves
and lo, there is a complete change. Honesty has its
degrees, its morning, noon and night phases; but
there is one quality in man that undergoes no
change, a quality superior to conscience or honesty,
This train of thought was running through the
THE CARPETBAGGER 221
Governor's mind as he strolled slowly along a
street in the residential part of the town. He argued
that honor might stray off like a deer, to feed upon
rich pastures in a strange land, and still like the
deer, it might come back again to nibble the short
grass of its native hill-side. He heard the talking
of children, and halted to look at two little girls,
playing in the corner of a fence. On the fence
sat a boy, compassionately, and yet with a con-
temptuous sense of his superiority, looking down
upon them. There were a number of dolls on
diminutive chairs, little things made bright with
ribbons and lace; and a short distance off, in a sort
of pen made of bricks and stone, there was a hideous
monster of a rag doll, with great charcoal eyes
and a mouth of frightful width. It was a "man-
doll," with a bull neck, an unsightly paunch and
knock-knees. On his head he wore horns, made of
the long thorns from a locust tree. The Governor
spoke kindly and the girls looked up smilingly at
"You have a very pretty house and are very neat
housekeepers," he said.
222 THE CARPETBAGGER
"It would be nice, but everything is upside down,
now," said the larger of the girls. **We have so
"With our young friend up here?" said the Gov-
ernor, nodding at the boy.
"Oh, no, with the old 'Bad Man'," she replied.
"The 'Bad Man'?"
"Yes, there he is," and she pointed to the doll in
Then the younger child spoke. "He's all the
time coming in and tryin' to take the little ones
away. See the hair coming out of Lillie's head?"
she added, pointing to a doll that was losing its
yellow wool. "Well, he did that when we wasn't
lookin'. He's the meanest thing."
"Why don't you have him killed?" the Governor
asked, and the boy snorted,
"He can't be killed," replied the larger girl. "He
has been shot oh, so many times ; but it don't make
no difiference to him. He don't mind it at all. He
eats bullets and powder and smacks his mouth and
THE CARPETBAGGER 223
'*Ho," said the boy, "I could rip him all to pieces
in a minute."
This was a brutal piece of iconoclasm, and the
larger girl resented it. "Now what do you want to
talk that way for, Billie. You are all the time
tryin' to break up everything. I wish you'd go
"You call the old fellow over there the 'Bad
Man'," said the Governor. "Hasn't he any other
"Oh, yes," replied the child. "His other name is
The Carpetbagger winced. He not only saw the
abhorrence in which he was held in the present,
but saw himself in the future, pictured as a beast.
These children, in the years to come, would tell
their grandchildren of the monster who once made
his den in the state house. The strong man may
defy the opinion held to-day, for he can confront
a charge and frown upon it; but he may neverthe-
less be afraid of the opinion forming, mist-like,
away off yonder in the unnamed days to come.
224 THE CARPETBAGGER
There he cannot defend himself, and his helpless
descendants must bear the odium of his misdeeds.
The Governor, with his arm.s resting on the fence,
and with an occasional look at the "Bad Man" in
the pen, the thing now having a sort of fascination
for him, mused over the little girls, knowing them
to be ignorant that the namesake of their rag-
ruffian v/as so near,
"But is this Governor Crance such a very bad
man?" he asked.
"Awful," said the larger girl. 'They have to
watch him all the time. He goes out when the
nights are dark and steals sheep, and he drags them
into his den and sucks their blood out and then
throws 'em away. And one night when an old man
sat counting his money, a hand came in at the
windov/ and grabbed the money and the old man
grabbed the hand, for it was all the money he had
and he didn't know where to get any more ; but the
hand wouldn't let go, and neither would the old
man, so he was dragged away out in the woods.
And the next morning they found him in a sink
THE CARPETBAGGER 225
hole, with one of his hands cut off, and that day a
man saw Governor Crance go to the window of the
awful place where he stays and throw a hand out
in the yard."
"Yes," the younger girl spoke up, "and when
he blows his breath at a cow she can't give any more
milk; and my uncle he had a cow and Governor
Crance blov/ed his breath at her, and she couldn't
give a drop of milk. She tried, and tried, but she
The boy snorted. "Ho," he said, "I'd put a hole
through him if he was to come blowin' his breath
around any of my cows."
"You are awful brave, ain't you?" said the older
girl, half tauntingly, and yet with the light of ad-
miration in her eyes.
"I'm brave enough to put a hole through him,"
the boy rephed, shaking his head; "and when I get
big I'm going to do it, whether he blows his breath
at my cows or not."
"If you shoot at him," said the smaller girl, '*he'll
catch the powder and throw it back at you."
The boy shouted. "Ho, catch the powder! Who
226 THE CARPETBAGGER
ever heard of catching powder! Girls don't know a
thing, do they, Mister? Ho, catch the powder.
You mean bullet."
"Well," she said, "it don't make any difference
what he would catch, he'd catch it just the same,
and he'd throw it back at you and kill you with it."
"How long since Brother Crance over there
broke out?" the Governor asked, nodding at the
rag-ruffian. The younger girl looked at the older
one as if this were an important matter and should
be answered after due deliberation.
"Yesterday," said the older girl. "Some visitors
came, and while we were talkin' to 'em, v/e heard
a screamin' and a loud bellov/, and when we ran
in here, the old 'Bad Man' had choked Mollie and
Jennie nearly to death and had pulled Lillie's hair
till she was blue in the face. It was all we could do
to get him out, and as soon as we shut him up, he
said he wanted a sheep to eat, a great, big, whole
sheep; but we wouldn't give him a poor sheep that
never did an3^body any harm, so he's hungry yet,
and we don't care if he starves to death."
THE CARPETBAGGER 227
On the opposite side of the street, not far away,
there was a refreshment booth presided over by a fat
German. The Governor asked the children if they
would like to go over with him and eat ice cream.
The boy tumbled off the fence, and the faces of the
girls brightened. They went with him, the girls
hanging to his arms, and the boy proudly marching
in front as if he had inspired the expedition. When
they sat down at a table the Governor told them that
the entire establishment was theirs if they wanted
it. They had liked him at first; now they were en-
chanted by him. The smaller girl gazed into his
eyes and said that they were like her own grandpa's,
always trying to laugh at something.
"What is your name?" the older girl asked.
"My name," said the Governor, with his eye on
the proprietor, now bestirring himself in the execu-
tion of an order, "why, you may call me Mr. Old-
"What a funny name," cried the younger girl.
"But you ain't funny. You are the bestest sort of a
man, and I'm going to think of you when you are
228 THE CARPETBAGGER
not here, and when my uncle is Governor in place
of the bad man that's there now, I'm goin' to make
him give you a big dinner and all the people will be
there and you'll be glad."
"Your uncle?" said the Governor. "What is his
name? Not — er, Major Reynolds?"
"Ah, ha. He's my uncle, and when he's Gov-
ernor — "
"Let us have all the different kinds of cake you
have," said the Governor, breaking in upon her as
the proprietor came near. "Yes, bring us every-
thing you've got. Cover the table."
"Ain't he good!" cried the older girl.
The proprietor shrugged his heavy shoulders.
"I vould say he vos. Und you don'd know who vas
doin' all deese, hah? It vas nod everypody dat had
ice cream und cake bought by de Gof — "
The Carpetbagger lifted his hand. "Don't," he
The proprietor understood and bowed as he went
back to where his wife stood wiping dishes. ^'A
man vot can ketch de leetle ones, like dot," he re-
marked, "can't be so bat in de heart."
FOOD FOR SCANDAL
When the feast was done, the Governor bade his
little friends good-bye, the smaller eirl putting up
her lips to be kissed, and strode full of thought
along the street. He pictured the horrified change
that would have spread over the faces of the chil-
dren had the German told them that it was the
Carpetbagger who had ordered the feast. He could
see the boy scampering off, to save himself, and
could hear the two girls begging for mercy. "And
this is America," he soliloquized. He passed along
by the post-office, still musing, with no thought
for the scenes about him, when he was called out of
the depths by a soft voice at his side. He looked up
and a flush flew to his face as he met the gaze of the
widow Fairburn. She had just come out of the
post-office, for she had a letter and a newspaper in
230 THE CARPETBAGGER
The Governor was surprised, not indeed to find
her there, for everyone went to the post-office, but
surprised that she should speak to him where every
eye could see her, where every look would be a
reproach. lie bowed to her, halting thoughtfully
to let her pass on, and murmured something which
sounded like "delighted to see you. Madam." But
she did not go; she stood face to face with him,
looking with frankness into his eyes, and though
he turned neither to the right nor to the left, yet he
knew that the passers-by were casting reproachful
glances upon her. It was embarrassing; he would
not thus expose her to the censure of her friends.
Bowing again, he moved off and was surprised to
find that she was walking beside him. True they
were neighbors and had talked across the fence;
they were more than neighbors, for she had given
him a rose,and one eveninghehad walked homewitli
her, bidding her good-night at the door of her
house; but she had never invited him to enter that
house, had never encouraged him to recognize her
when they met by chance in the street. Many a
THE CARPETBAGGER 231
time she had passed without raising her eyes, with-
out even showing by her countenance that she
knew he was near. So, what could be the meaning
of this bold recognition? He slackened his pace to
let her walk on, and she walked slower; he quick-
ened his steps to pass her, and she moved along be-
"Mrs, Fairburn," he exclaimed, hastily, "hav«
you forgotten that I — ? Don't you know that yout
"Yes, I know," she replied. "But there are con-
siderations higher than the approval of friends. A
duty can sometimes be so strong and imperative as
to put every friend in the background."
"I don't understand, Mrs. Fairburn." He
glanced at her and saw her eyes, full of a soft light,
turned toward him.
"Governor, I heard something about you yester-
day, and I determined then that I would thank you,
no matter where I might meet you or who might be
''Heard something? Well, you can't always be^
licve ^vhat you hear, you know."
232 THE CARPETBAGGER
"But I can believe what I heard yesterday. I
know that you have turned over to a committee of
our citizens — men whose honesty cannot be ques-
tioned — two hundred thousand dollars to found an
orphan asylum for the state. I want to thank you."
"No; let me thank you," he replied.
She caught her breath, and they walked some
distance before another word was spoken. "Our
roads lie in the same direction," she said. They
were going toward home.
"I hope that our paths may never cross," he re-
plied, without looking at her, and they walked on
a long distance without speaking.
"Mrs. Fairburn," he said, at length, "a conscience
encouraged to clear itself of a weight, ought to feel
thankful. I know one that does."
"Governor," replied the widow, "the seed of
reformation lies in the soil of every conscience."
"Ah, but it may not sprout till water is gently
poured upon it. Then let that conscience thank the
hand that poured the water. Mrs. Fairburn, a con-
science is sometimes a sort of Central Africa and
has not within it the germ of self-civilization."
THE CARPETBAGGER 233
They were now at the gate. She halted and after
a few moments' silence, said: "Won't you — won't
you come in?" Had it cost her an effort? He
thought so, and hesitated.
"Do — er- — do you mean it?"
"I never say things that I do not mean."
He stepped in at the gate, she beside him, and
silently walked along the paved pathway that led
up to the steps of the old mansion. There were
rocking chairs on the veranda, but she did not ask
him to sit down there^; she led him into the old-
fashioned parlor where there was a cool, sweet smell.
He glanced about the room, so full of the wasteful
richness of the past: the heavy furniture brought
from foreign lands, paintings from Italian walls, and
an old grand piano which once had been the marvel
of the community. The Governor fancied that he
could almost smell the music in it, and he sat down,
with his mind on the wheezing melodeon in the
cheerless "best room" of the farm-house where he '
had lain, cold and miserable, "up chamber," listen-
ing to a tune that was intended as praise to the
234 THE CARPETBAGGER
"I used to think that all the sv/eet tunes came
like a perfume from the South," he said. "And they
seemed to come of a summer evening, just after a
"Why, Governor," she said, with brightening
eyes, "you are really sentimental. Your old home
must still be warm in your heart."
He shook his head. "My heart could have made
a home warm, but I had no home." He looked
through the window at the whitewashed negro
cabins in the distance. ''Out there they used to
sing and dance at night," he said ; "but with us there
was no song. We worked so hard that when dark-
ness came we dropped down to sleep; and, even on
Sunday, the sun shining through the roof was some-
times a mockery of freedom, calling upon us to get
up and work with the cattle. But it was a great
luxury to lie in bed till after the sun had come up,
and it could not be hoped for except on Sunday."
Her eyes were full of sympathy. "I remember
an old song," he went on, slowly rocking in the
soft chair. "Something about the 'Yellow Rose of
Texas'. Won't you sing it for me?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 235
She went to the piano and the first note she
touched sent a thrill through him. Her voice was
low and rich, suited, he thought, to the paintings on
the wall. He forgot his office, forgot the war, the
blood shed by brothers. In the world there was
nothing but melody. He did not know when she
ceased to sing but, looking through a mist, he saw
that she had turned upon the stool and was facing
him. He had not dreamed enough, had not for-
gotten enough of the war and of the blood of the
son on the shirt of the father. "Sing again," he
whispered, leaning back in his chair, "Sing an old
tune — something so gentle and peace-loving that
it did not dare to lift its head during our storm."
She understood him. She knew that he was try-
ing to forget, that he found a sweetness in putting
a blight on the present. Again and again she sang
and he floated away in a warm sea of melody. The
tavern bells clanged the hour for supper. He got
up and held out his hand. "I want to thank you
for one of the happiest days of my life." She
smiled as she took his hand, and something in that
236 THE CARPETBAGGER
smile told him that she was sorry for him, nothing
more. Had it not been for that pitying- smile he
might have said something that had crept into his
heart, but now he drove it out almost resentfully.
The command of "guide, right," came from the
street and, looking out, they saw a company of mi-
litia passing. It had all come back now — the mem-
ory of the war, the adventure on the one hand and
the insult of the Reconstruction period on the other.
"Yes," he repeated, "a very enjoyable time. I
wish you good-evening, Madam."
THE MAJOR FILES AN OBJECTION
Later in the evening, when the swallows had
ceased to skim through the dusky air, the card of
Major Reynolds was brought in to Mrs. Fairburn.
She greeted him warmly when he came into the
room, telling him how glad she was that he had
called, and added that he had almost forgotten her
during the push and struggle of the campaign.
When a lamp had been lighted and she could see
his face, however, she knew that something must
have gone amiss, and she remembered then that he
had said nothing since he sat down stiffly.
*'The campaign will soon be over," she said.
"And then, of course, I shall see no more of you."
He turned his eyes upon her ; a frown was traced
upon his brow. "Has anything gone wrong,
He cleared his throat. "Decidedly, Madam."
"Indeed! May I ask what it is?"
238 THE CARPETBAGGER
"You shall know. A few moments ago, while in a
drug store, I was deeply grieved to hear that you
had been seen in front of the post-office, talking to
Governor Crance; that you had not only encour-
aged him to talk to you, but that you permitted him
to walk home with you. I said that it could not be
true; I could not believe it."
"But you must have believed it, Major. Your
face and the tone of your voice tell me that you did
"Ah, but your face and the tone of your voice
tell me that it is all a mistake," he replied.
"It is true," she said.
"You acknowledge it?"
"If it's true, why shouldn't I acknowledge it?"
''Ah, but why should it be true? How could you
so scandalize your state and your family? I ask
you that. How could you?"
"Major," she said, slowly, "a good man deserves
little credit for doing right. It is his nature to do
so. But one who for any reason has gone astray
deserves a great deal of credit if he makes an honest
THE CARPETBAGGER 239
effort to reform. Such a man deserves our sym-
pathy. He deserves something more than our sym-
pathy; he commands our aid, our support, our
"If you are going to defend him I will not stay
"Wait. I am not defending the past record of
Governor Crance. I know that he represents a bad
cause. But I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that
of late he has done deeds meet for repentance."
"But think of yourself/' the Major insisted. "And
consider who he is and what he represents. Think
of your standing in this community. Alice, I have
known you all my life and I speak to you with an
authority of long friendship. I know the goodness
of your heart, but you must not allow it to blind
your judgment or to mislead your discretion. You
are rich, honored, respected; he is poor, despised,
reviled and it is believed that to gain a political ad-
vantage he has not hesitated to put an unspeakable
outrage upon my family."
"You don't believe it. Major," cried Mrs. Fair-
240 THE CARPETBAGGER
burn, hastily. "You know it isn't true. Have you
forgotten that night among the magnoHas? Has
the memory of that man's generosity faded from
The tall Southerner winced. "I am willing," he
said, "to give him full credit for everything that — "
*'Then, why should not I? I believe — I have
good reason to believe — that this man whom you
despise is not a bad man at heart, but a victim ol
circumstances and environment. That he has done
wrong I grant, but I know he is capable of better
things. You and I, Major, should make it easy,
not make it difficult, for him to reform. He has
turned over to a committee two hundred thousand
dollars to — "
"Yes, I've heard of that," broke in the Major,
impetuously, "and it's well enough in its way. But
where did he get the money? Whose money is it?
Did he bring it here with him? Did he save it out
of his salary? Didn't the money belong to the
state? And if so, has he done so virtuous a thing
THE CARPETBAGGER 241
"Yes, he has, Major. It shows that he is trying
to make amends. It shows that he is not lost to
honesty and to honor."
"AHce," he said, ''I have always held you up as
the model woman of the South — the model woman
of the World. But I cannot approve of your action
to-day. A thief may be repentant, and may do
good, but we must not lose sight of the fact that
he has been a thief."
"There once was a thief on a cross," remarked
**Yes," replied the Major, "and in my opinion he
has done more real harm in the world than all other
thieves combined. He is the emblem of eleventh
She was shocked and did not hesitate to tell him
so. He had presumed to question the wisdom and
the mercy of the Son of Man, and she thought him
little better than a blasphemer. He bowed his head
under her rebuke and apologized, acknowledging
that it was sinful of him, and hoped that she would
242 THE CARPETBAGGER
"1 may have been indiscreet," she said, "but I
did what I thought was right." A brightening
change spread over the Major's countenance. *'Now
you are the girl I knew so well years ago," said he.
"And really, Alice, I can't see that you have grovv'n
They heard Roy in the hall, commanding a col-
umn of imaginary soldiers. "Doesn't that sound
like it?" she said. "Doesn't a son large enough to
command an army make me seem older?"
"Not a bit," he maintained. Taking her by the
hand, he said: "Come, sing something for me.
There is not a voice in the world that pleases me as
yours does. Sing 'Lorena'."
She sang for him and he stood beside her, with
his mind in the past, the bright and careless days of
his youth. He heard the banjo's ring and caught
the glow of the Christmas fire in the cabin. Again
he was borne in triumph upon the shoulders of a
black giant, held up to be worshipped as the com-
ing master. Ah, how different from the past
brought back by the Carpetbagger!
THE CARPETBAGGER 243
The Major did not ask her to sing again A^hen
the song was ended. He led her gently to a chair,
and when she had sat down, giving him a smile
which, as much as the song, spoke of old days, he
took a seat near her and looked into her eyes till
she colored under his gaze.
"Alice," he began, "you know my history as well
if not better than I could tell it to you. You know
why I never married." She looked at him and
slowly nodded as the past came back to her — the
mourning of a neighborhood for a girl thrown from
a horse and killed. One week from the time when
she lay, amid the blossoms and the roses of April,
young Reynolds was to have led her to his father's
house. It was a hard blow and his friends feared
that his reason had been shaken. With a physician
he had roamed in foreign lands, and for years after
his return, lived as one to whom life was a heavy
load. She remembered it all, and her eyes were
soft as she looked upon him. It was the first time
he had ever alluded to his bereavement.
"Yes," she said, "I know."
244 THE CARPETBAGGER
''Time has mellowed that sorrow into something
sweet," he remarked, almost in a whisper. Then he
was silent, leaving her to wonder why he had
brought back that part of the past.
He took her hand as he had taken it years ago,
on their way to school, to help her across a rivulet —
he took her hand and held it, still looking into her
"In the years that are gone, there was no ro-
mance between us."
"No, Major. We were always good friends."
Slowly she began to withdraw her hand from his,
but he held it. "Of late, after all these years, I
have thought that we might be more to each other.
We both have looked upon withered roses ; we have
breathed their perfume in the chamber of death;
but roses are for the living as well as the dead."
"Major, I don't — don't quite understand," she
said, withdrawing her hand, but without taking her
eyes from his. "Roses for the living? Yes, they
are planted and cared for by the living."
THE CARPETBAGGER 24o
"Ah, and they should be enjoyed by the living.
At my house there is a wilderness of them, without
"And my garden Is full of them," she said.
"Yes, but they have no master."
"The rose needs neither a master nor a mistress,"
she replied. "It needs but one true servant, — Sen-
"Alice, I could esteem no one so much as I do
you. I believe that a new career is opening for me,
and alone, it would be but half a career. Will you
not share it with me? Don't answer impulsively.
Don't ansv/er now. But when I am Governor, I
shall ask you to be my wife."
He arose to take his leave. She went to the door
with him, and as they stood there in a silence, full
of meaning for both, they heard the merry laughter
of Nellie and Roy, off somewhere in the perfume of
A FADED ROSE
One afternoon a few days before the election
Governor Crance was busily engaged in clearing up
the business of his office when Mrs. Fairburn's
card was brought in.
"I know you are very busy, Governor," she said,
a moment later, as she entered the room with a
smile and a word of friendly greeting, "but I hope
you will pardon this intrusion. I want to see you
about a matter in which I know we both are deeply
"It would be impossible, Madam, for you to in-
trude upon me," replied the Governor, warmly.
"You are always welcome and I am entirely at your
"Thank you," she said. "I will detain you only
a moment. I have here a message which I am
going to deliver to Old Mrs. Reynolds and I would
THE CARPETBAGGER 247
like to talk with you about the case as it now stands
against her husband, before I see her."
"Let me send up the message for you," suggested
"Thank you; but I don't feel Hke troubling you
to that extent."
"Nonsense!" cried the Carpetbagger. "Here,
Lummers. Take this note up to the Reynolds plan-
tation. If there is an answer, wait for it." He took
a letter from the widow's hand and hurried the sec-
retary off, glad to have an opportunity to talk with
his fair visitor alone.
"Governor," she began, as soon as the footsteps
of Lummers died away, "I fully appreciate the no-
bility of character you have displayed toward Major
Reynolds in this campaign and I beHeve I under-
stand all that this course has cost you. I want to
thank you for what you have done. Few men in
any walk of life ever were called upon to make so
heavy a sacrifice for the right as you have made.
And few would have had sufficient moral courage
to do it. The election, of course, rested absolutely
248 THE CARPETBAGGER
in your own hands. When you decided that the
troops should not be used to intimidate our voters
at the polls, when you named a non-partisan return-
ing board and declared that every vote honestly cast
should be honestly counted, you elected your polit-
ical opponent and deliberately defeated yourself.
No general upon the field of battle ever won a
The Carpetbagger made no reply. He gazed
fixedly out of the window, though he saw nothing
"Major Reynolds," she went on, "already is
elected. There can be no question on that point.
The balloting will be merely the ratification of a
result already known. Governor, I am anxious that
the case against Old Mr. Reynolds should be settled
while you still remain in office. You can readily
understand why, I am sure."
"Yes, Mrs. Fairburn," quietly replied the Gov-
ernor, "I think I do. The legal vindication of Old
Mr. Reynolds at this time would remove a stain,
however undeserved, from the name of my sue-
THE CARPETBAGGER 249
cessor. My detectives already have instructions to
do everything in their power to clear this matter up
at once, I am more than willing to do this; I want
to do it. You may rest assured that I shall do
everything I can for Major Reynolds, for I know
that what I do for him I do for you."
The widow started slightly and a faint suggestion
of a blush glowed upon her cheeks.
"I — I — am afraid I don't quite understand you,"
The Governor faced her squarely. "Oh, yes you
do," he responded firmly. "I know that the elec-
tion of Major Reynolds will bring him a far greater
honor than the governorship of this state. I under-
stand that; and it's all right."
It was now Mrs. Fairburn's turn to remain silent.
She nervously fingered some letters upon the desk
before her, but made no attempt to speak.
"Mrs. Fairburn," continued the Carpetbagger,
after an awkward pause, "though this is not the last
time, I hope, that T shall see you, it may be the last
opportunity I shall have to say something to you
260 THE CARPETBAGGER
that I must say before I go back to Chicago.
Throughout the city, even now, you will meet little
bands of marchers celebrating the election of Major
Reynolds in advance of the returns. You will hear
them shout for 'home rule' and 'honesty in elec-
tions,* and you will hear them hoot at the Carpet-
bag regime. There speaks Mississippi. And I want
you to know that if the state is benefited by my
overthrow, she is your debtor to that extent, for
you did it."
"No, no," hastily interposed the widow. "You
must not say that."
"Why not? It's the truth; and I want you to
know it. During all the . weary months I have
been here only one woman in the whole state of
Mississippi has ever spoken to me in kindness — just
one. Only one has ever held out to me any incen-
tive to do better, any thought of responsibility or
any hope for the future. This is your work, Madam.
The credit for it is yours, not mine."
He arose and strode moodily up and down the
room several times. Suddenly he stopped before
THE CARPETBAGGER 251
her. "Do you see that face upon the wall?" he
demanded, pointing to an old oil portrait of An-
drew Jackson. "Do you know the platform upon
which he stood? He was a Southerner; do you
know what he taught us of the North? To the
victors,' he said, 'belong the spoils'. That was his
political creed; when I came here, I made it mine,
and for me 'spoils' meant 'plunder'. Don't tell me
that this was wrong. I know it now. But I didn't
know it then and I might never have known it at
all but for you."
Mrs. Fairburn evidently was moved. "I can't
let you talk like that," she said. "You are the one
who deserves all credit for what has been done and
this is particularly true because I know you have
been actuated by no thought of yourself, no hope
"No; you're wrong," interposed the Governor.
"All our acts, I think, are based on selfishness. I
have hoped for a reward, Mrs. Fairburn. I want
"Esteem is no just reward. Governor, for what
you have done. You deserve far more than — "
252 THE CARPETBAGGER
"I deserve nothing — nothing that my conscience
doesn't give me. Mississippi to-day has every dol-
lar I ever took from her wrongfully — and more.
And I don't feel like a repentant thief, either. I
believed I was right. I thought I could stand
safely on the platform laid down by that idol of the
South, Old Hickory himself. It was a mistake.
Jackson's platform never was a license to plunder;
I know it now."
"You have acted nobly — grandly!" cried Mrs.
Fairburn, with genuine admiration beaming from
"I am going back to Chicago, Mrs. Fairburn,"
continued the Carpetbagger, slowly and with evi-
dent emotion, "to begin the fight all over again —
the battle of life. I'm not afraid of the future at
all. That will take care of itself. I have abandoned
political life without a regret; I have beggared my-
self without a protest; I have turned over this com-
monwealth to Major Reynolds without a contest.
Hate me if you want to ; despise me if you will ; but
I can't go back to Chicago — and I won't — without
THE CARPETBAGGER 253
telling you that, if I felt in my heart that I were
worthy of you, I'd fight the whole state of Miss-
issippi to a standstill before I would give you up."
The ensuing silence was oppressive. There was
a suspicious moisture in the widow's eyes as she
arose unsteadily and extended her hand. "I'll have
to be going," she said. "I'm afraid your clerk
isn't coming back at all."
She went out softly and the Governor, standing
as one in a dream, slowly drew from his pocket a
wrinkled envelope and took from it a faded rose.
IN A DEAD man's HAND
The election was near at hand. Throughout the
country districts the air was scented with barbecued
pig and sheep roasted whole, and in the town the
night was sleepless with the blare and the snort of
the brass band. Old politicians, keen to jump back
into the harness and jingle the trace-chains of self-
importance, predicted that there was to be a sweep-
ing victory for "Democracy" unless the enemy held
in reserve a trick to spring at the last moment. But
as the judges of election had to all appearances
been fairly appointed, it was not likely that any
decisive trick could be devised. Besides, it did not
seem to be the Carpetbagger's desire to win by
fraud. He had held the state in the hollow of his
grasping hand, and surely he could have kept it
there, for nothing had really occurred to weaken
his power — nothing except the concessions which
he himself had granted.
THE CARPETBAGGER 253
In the glow of a noon when the air was close, the
Major halted in at Mrs. Fairburn's gate. The wid-
ow was sitting in a hammock swung across the
veranda. She waved her fan at him and asked him
to come in. He had not the time for so luxurious
a pleasure, he said; there was work for him to do,
at the committee rooms in the hotel, but he could
not resist the temptation to linger for a moment.
He stood in the cool shade of a vine, and seemed
to be in no haste to get at his important work.
"A few days ago," said he, "it was my earnest
desire to be elected; now it is more than a desire —
it is an enthusiasm."
"Then a distant view did not lend a false enchant-
ment to the office," she replied, laughing.
"No, the closer I get, the more attractive it
Her woman's instinct told her why, but she could
not have helped asking. Naturally he expected the
question, but of course pretended astonishment
that she should not know why.
256 THE CARPETBAGGER
"The office is brighter, now, Alice, because I
have a hope that you will share it with me."
"Why, Major," she said, somewhat flustered,
"don't talk so loud. Some one might hear you."
He bowed over the gate and said that he would
respect her caution. "But," he added, "I would
like to shout it from the dome of the state house."
"They would think that you were making a polit-
ical speech," she said.
He shook his head. "No, not a political speech,
for there can be nothing politic where the heart is
so deeply concerned. A man may set his mind
upon an office; his heart is reserved for some-
thing nobler. But as I said before, you must not
decide impulsively. When I am Governor I shall
expect your answer."
He bowed again and passed on, and just at that
moment, a negress, employed by Mrs. Fairburn as
a laundress, came around a corner of the house,
wringing her hands and moaning. Mrs. Fairburn,
full of sympathy, besought her to tell the cause of
her distress, but the poor woman was so overcome
THE CARPETBAGGER 251
by grief that it was some moments before she could
speak. Then she said that Zeb, her husband, had
been found murdered, with a knife wound in his
breast. On the night before, he had gone to meet
a man who owed him some money — she did not
know the name of the man — and had been stabbed
to death in Thompson's kimber yard.
"I doan want him t' be buried by no charity,"
said the woman. "I want t' borry enough money
t' pay fur de funeral; an' I doan know when I kin
pay you, but I want you t' take dis yere watch an'
keep it till I fetches de money back t' you."
She took a gold watch from her bosom and held
it out to Mrs. Fairburn. 'T don't want your watch,
Minerva. I will let you have the money, but I
couldn't think of — "
"Yessum, you mus'. You got t', 'case I doan
know whut t' do wid it no how, fur it's too fine
"Let me see it," said Mrs. Fairburn, taking the
watch. She opened it and looked up with a start.
"Where did you get this? Tell me the truth."
258 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Yassum, I'll tell you de truf ez de Lawd is my
jedge. My husband he gib it t' me."
"Do you know where he got it?"
"No'm, I doan know, but de white pusson dat
he works fur mus' er gib it t' him in pay fur his
"Do you know whom he worked for?"
"No'm. He neber tole me much er bout his er
fairs, No'm, I doan know."
"I'll let you have the money and keep the watch,"
said the widow kindly. Gently drawing the sorrow-
ing negress down upon the veranda she questioned
her long about all phases of the affair and particu-
larly inquired about the watch.
Then she sent the woman away with the money
under her apron, chanting a negro's improvised
dirge as she crossed lots in the direction of home.
Reaching there, her chant was merged into the
mourning song sung by her friends, gathered at the
house. Jim looked in at the door and stood shak-
ing his head. Early that morning a man had come
running to tell him that Zeb was dead in Thomp-
THE CARPETBAGGER 259
son's lumber yard, and he had hastened over there
to see for himself. The news had not yet been
spread, the body having just been found, and Jim
saw the murder in all its ghastly newness. He ap-
proached cautiously, looking at the dead man's up-
turned face. Then he looked at the right hand,
shut tight, and stood there, pop-eyed with a dis-
covery. Bending over he took something from the
dead man's hand. As he looked at it an ashen
pallor overspread his swarthy face, his knees trem-
bled and his teeth chattered like castanets. He
carefully put it away in his pocket and hastened
away. He returned when the coroner came, but
said nothing of his discovery. He walked about in
deep thought, shaking his head. He was related
to the newly-made widow, and went to her house
to mourn with her; but he did not even tell her of
the thing which he had found in the dead man's
THE CHECK THAT CONSCIENCE DRAWS
Several members of the legislature, who had been
unusually active in state affairs during the Carpet-
bag regime, were missing. Rumor said they had
gone abroad for their health, albeit they had grown
fat and waxed strong through feeding at the pub-
lic's expense. The rats had begun to desert the
sinking ship; those v/ho remained did so in order
to make one last plundering attack upon whatever
could be found in the old worm-eaten hulk.
Willetts sent for Lucy Linford. He knew he had
reached the end of his rope and that he no longer
had any influence whatsoever with the chief execu-
tive. Daily conferences with the lethargic Lum-
mers had confirmed this beyond question, even if
additional confirmation were needed. He knew
that henceforth whatever was accomplished by him
must be done vicariously and he turned to the
THE CARPETBAGGER 261
schoolbook lobbyist as the most effective tool avail-
"What is the use of trying to push this matter
right in the midst of the election excitement?" de-
murred old Steve's agent. "Why not v/ait a while?
If the election goes against him, he will still be Gov-
ernor for a while, won't he?"
Willetts snorted. "You may understand school-
books," he cried, "but you don't understand Mis-
sissippi. Now, listen and follow me closely. The
moment the election returns are in, the Carpetbag
government will explode. Those law-makers will
take to the woods like scared rabbits. They've been
sitting there now eight months in violation of all
law, crawling over each other in their efforts to
push through a few more schemes before the crash
comes. Our people won't pay us a cent so long
as there is any loophole in this bill which will enable
the next administration to undo it. They demand
that it shall not only be signed by the Governor, but
also that the fact shall be recorded in both houses
before they will cash in for us. Vve must get the
262 THE CARPETBAGGER
old man's name and we must get it, too, before this
legislature lets go. Understand?"
"Get him — somehow. I don't care how. You
can do more with him than I can. You are a
woman. You know what that means."
The lobbyist shook her head dubiously. "I'll see
what I can do," she remarked, "but I'm not at all
sanguine about the matter. He won't melt — I've
tried him and I know. We've got to take another
tack this time. Leave me alone with him for a
few minutes and I'll try to land him. Have Lum-
mers keep everyone else away so that I'll have a
This was a matter easy of accomplishment.
Lummers was expecting her when she called.
"Tell the Governor a lady wishes to see him, Jim,"
he said. "No name — just a lady. I'm going to
step up to the senate chamber for a moment. Don't
let anyone in till I get back."
The Governor entered briskly from his private
office with a number of papers in his hand. He
THE CARPETBAGGER 263
Stopped abruptly as he recognized the caller. She
was all smiles.
"Are you surprised?" she inquired.
"Um-no," was the hesitating response. 'Tm not
surprised at anything nowadays — haven't time."
Lucy motioned toward a chair. "May I sit
down?" she asked.
She indicated another chair. "Won't you?"
"It is hardly worth while. I am very — "
"Oh, come, be sociable just a minute. You're
not afraid of me, are you?"
The Carpetbagger shook his head. "I'm afraid
of myself," he said, as he took a seat across the
room from his visitor.
"Governor, how is your memory?"
"Bad— very bad."
"You haven't forgot what you told me the other
night, have you?"
"No. I told you 'good bye'." *
The lobbyist bit her lip. "You have a positive
genius," she remarked, "for forgetting things you
264 THE CARPETBAGGER
ought to remember and remembering things you
ought to forget."
"Oh, I don't know about that. There are a great
many things I'd like to forget and can't."
"I hope you haven't tried to forget the Midland
"I forgot that without trying."
There was a marked change in Miss Linford's
demeanor at once. She altered her tactics instantly.
All attempts at fascination were at an end; verbal
fencing was abandoned ; she did not smile now.
"Governor," she said forcefully, "you understand
your business or you wouldn't be where and what
you are. I think I understand mine. I'm a busi-
ness woman now; let's talk business."
The Carpetbagger shifted uneasily in his chair
but made no reply.
"In politics," she went on, "there is nothing sad-
der than an official suicide — like this."
"Well, I'm not on ice yet."
THE CARPETBAGGER 266
"You've killed yourself. Don't you think you
ought to save enough now to pay your funeral ex-
"Don't let that worry you."
"You have pulled down the temple. What have
you gained ? You have thrown away the Governor-
ship ; you have thrown over your party and defeated
your friends. Now what? Do you expect to live
here among these people whom you have robbed
for years? You can't do it. Do you expect to go
back to Chicago? How will you do that — walk
back — without a cent?"
"If a man is 'broke' it doesn't make much differ-
ence where he is, does it?"
"The election is a mere waste of time. What's
the use? The moment the returns are in, however,
the legislature will adjourn. Then it will be too
late. Your name — right now — is worth $50,000.
She was leaning toward him eagerly, looking
straight into his eyes, and every word was uttered
with the force of a hammer blow. The Carpet-
266 THE CARPETBAGGER
bagger leaned back in his chair, looked toward the
ceiling and crossed his hands behind his head. "Do
you remember," he slowly asked, after a brief inter-
val of silence, "in that old school-reader there was
a quotation from an older book: 'A good name is
rather to be chosen than great riches?' I'm afraid
you haven't got that in your new books."
"Yes, I do think so. Better men than you have
done worse things. You mustn't let a sentimental
whim wreck all your chances for the future. It
would be a crime. We haven't a moment to lose.
You have only one chance left — don't let it slip.
You owe this to yourself; you owe it to your
daughter. Think of her future and — "
The Governor sprang to his feet. "Hold on
now!" he cried. "You've gone far enough. I have
heard you ; now you hear me. When I came down
here, I came just as you did — to plunder. And I
did it. There is no future in that. I've tried it. I
know. Mississippi today has every dollar that I
THE CARPETBAGGER 267
took from her. I have given her back her money;
she has given me back my conscience."
A sneer hardened the woman's face. "Will that
pay a board bill?" she asked ironically. "You can't .
cash your conscience at the bank."
"Any check that conscience draws — whether it is
ever paid or not — ^will be honored everywhere."
"Oh, sentiment sounds as pretty as anything in
your old school-reader, but you'll find you can get
along a good deal better on three meals a day. Be
Suddenly the Governor turned upon her. "Sen-
sible?" he cried. "No sensible man ever is dishonest.
Let me tell you that whenever a man tries to strike
out the enacting clause of the Ten Commandments
he is headed for — "
Nellie and Roy came bounding into the room.
Seeing Miss Linford engaged with the Governor
they stopped short and prepared to beat a hasty re-
"Come in!" cheerily called the Carbetbagger.
"Come right in. How are you, Captain? It's all
right; this lady has finished her business."
268 THE CARPETBAGGER
The lobbyist reluctantly rose. "I didn't say I
had finished my business with you," she snarled.
"Didn't you?" gaily responded the Governor as
he took Nellie's curly head between his hands and
kissed her forehead. "Well, I did."
A GOOD TIMEPIECE
It was election day, and all places of business
were closed; election, the first held by the people
since the old days, when the "eagle orator" and
the "silvery tongued" set forth the wrongs of the
nation and the woes of the state.
At night a rain had fallen, there was no dust, and
the air was cool. Crowds were gathered about the
polling places, every one expecting blood to be
shed, though wise men stood about to give counsel
to hot heads. "We have lost a mighty issue by
blood, and blood will not win us an election," said
an old man, a lawyer who had sat upon the supreme
bench of the country. Occasionally rough hands
were laid upon a "repeater," to choke him, to beat
him and to drag him off. The brass bands were
still snorting, and ambitious young orators stood at
public places, welcoming the day of deliverance,
270 THE CARPETBAGGER
The Carpetbaggers had not given up the fight.
They knew that the party in power always has a
chance, for possession in poHtics means quite as
much as it does in law. But the shrewder ones
knew that the old carpetbag would not hold straw
after this day; they did not have to look to know it;
they felt it, the atmosphere v/as against them. The
legislature did not take a recess, each member being
interested in a selfish measure, and, fearing that his
time was short, continued to harangue and to strug-
gle. How lawless a gathering under the protection
of the law! Never again was the country to see its
semblance, the scrambling end of a riotous misrule.
It was a revolution. Negroes, tremulous with
the newness of suffrage, stood about astonished,
ballot in hand, the voice of the people in the palm
of yesterday's slave. The negro was not yet the
white man's enemy. He had with strange fidelity
taken care of the mistress and the little ones while
the master fought, and there was a kindly remem-
brance of it; but now had come the beginning of
the long and bitter struggle between the Anglo-
THE CARPETBAGGER 271
Saxon and the African. The old ruler of the soil
could forgive the negro's freedom, but he could not
forgive his vote, unless he should vote with the
native whites, and that his gratitude toward his
Northern liberators could not permit him to do. It
might have been a false gratitude, or rather a blind
gratitude, but that was for him to decide.
The hope of the Carpetbaggers lay with the
negro, but the freedmen were new as voters and
could not be sufficiently organized. By eleven
o'clock, the Democrats knew that Reynolds was far
in the lead, but there were several "heavy negro dis-
tricts" to hear from and the outcome was not certain.
The legislators took fresh hope. They had received
encouraging news, but their spirits flagged at noon,
dashed by a dispatch which simply read: "The
negroes don't know what they are doing. It looks
bad." Then the scramble began anew.
Early in the day, the gentler element of society
had retired from sight, behind closed doors, expect-
ing that there would be trouble, but later the em-
barrassment was thrown off and the women came
out to see the "struggle for new freedom."
272 THE CARPETBAGGER
Gov. Melville Crance was the coolest and the
calmest man in the little capital city of Mississippi.
The election of Major Reynolds was over, except
the shouting, and the shouting itself had begun.
As the day wore on, the pent up feelings of the
people could no longer be restrained. The streets
were thronged by excited citizens, singing, cheer-
ing and laughing with all the careless exuberance
and enthusiasm of college boys out for a lark.
Little bands of marchers, keeping step to fife and
drum, went about the city shouting the glad tidings
of the political regeneration at hand.
The saloons were closed, but the whiskey bottles
were not, and the ardent spirits of the marchers
were accentuated by the ardent spirits they con-
sumed en route.
Toward night, the demonstrations became louder
and more boisterous. The feeling of respect for the
Carpetbagger, due to his unexpected attitude to-
ward his political antagonist, was beclouded by the
fumes of liquor. He either was crazy, they said,
or else he had struck something better up North.
At any rate he deserved no consideration at the
THE CARPETBAGGER 273
hands of the outraged people he had so long op-
pressed. At times the manifestations assumed a
threatening aspect. Some pf the paraders, bolder
than the rest, halted beneath the Governor's window
to jeer at him and to hurl opprobrious epithets at
the man they hated.
Lummers was frightened. "Governor," he said
tremblingly, ''I don't like the looks of things out-
side. The town's full of drunken men and there's
no telling what those fellows will do when they are
in liquor. Hadn't we better close up?"
The Governor glanced up from some letters he
was examining and stopped whistling, for recently
he had relearned how to whistle at his work. "Non-
sense!" he said. "There is no danger. If you are
afraid you may go home for the day. Jim and I
can get along all right alone."
"I'm not afraid," continued Lummers, though his
voice told a different story, "but you'd better take
no chances to-day. If those fellows ever start,
they'll go gunning for bigger game than I am.
Watch out for them."
"Why, everything is going their way. What
274 THE CARPETBAGGER
more could they ask? They wouldn't make any-
thing by riddling a political corpse and they cer-
tainly are sensible enough to know it."
"When a man has mislaid his brains, or has
soaked 'em in whiskey," said the secretary, "he
isn't sensible enough to know anything. I tell you
the whole town is wild."
"Then you and I will set the town a good ex-
"All right/' persisted Lummers, "but I warn you,
just the same. Look out for yourself to-day." He
took from a pigeon hole of his desk a heavy Colt's
revolver and thrust it into the Governor's hands.
"Keep that where you can get at it."
The Carpetbagger gazed at the weapon curiously
and shook his head. "I've got through with that
sort of work," he said, and, opening the left hand
drawer of his desk, he laid the revolver in it and
closed it again. A few minutes later, he retired
into his private room. Jim came in, whispered
mysteriously to Lummers, and tiptoed out again to
usher in Willetts.
"Is the old man — ?" whispered the lobbyist.
THE CARPETBAGGER 275
"Sh!" interrupted Lummers, pointing toward the
door of the Governor's den.
"Have you got the Midland bill here?" asked
Willetts in a low tone.
"No. I don't know where it is. I've looked
through everything and can't find it."
"Do you think the old man has it?"
"No. I presume it's up at the house."
"Well, we've got to have it and we've got to
have it quick. Understand? Go after it. Tell 'em
the Governor sent you."
"If it's at the house I can't get it."
"Of course you can. Go through everything
until you find it. Say the Governor wants it. And
get back here just as quick as you can. Hurry!"
"I don't like to—"
"Nonsense. You'll never be missed. It won't
take ten minutes. Jim can look after the office."
Lummers hurried away and Willetts went out
with him, saying he would step up to the senate
chamber to see how matters were going. Shortly
afterward Mrs. Fairburn's card was brought in.
276 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Pardon me for disturbing you, to-day," she began,
"but I want to see you on a matter of urgent im-
"I am delighted to see you, Mrs. Fairburn," re-
sponded the Governor. "Won't you be seated?"
"My laundress," continued the widow with con-
siderable excitement in her speech, "was the wife
of a negro, Zeb, who was found murdered in
Thompson's lumber yard. A short time after
the poor thing came to me, half distracted,
and asked me for enough money to defray
the funeral expenses. She insisted on giving me
something for security and thrust into my hands
this watch. Look at it."
The Governor took the watch and inspected it
casually. "It looks like a valuable timepiece," he
remarked. "Probably it was stolen. You know
the colored brother doesn't always limit himself to
henroosts and watermelon patches."
"Look inside of it."
The Governor opened the case. " 'Presented io
Wiley Jones by his constituents, Spencer county,
THE CARPETBAGGER 277
Mississippi, April 10, 1866'," he slowly repeated,
reading an inscription.
"Where did this come from?" he hastily inquired.
"Who had it?"
"The negro, Zeb."
The Carpetbagger sprang to his feet. "It's as
clear as day," he cried. "That black scoundrel shot
Jones and stole his watch."
"Pardon me," interrupted Mrs. Fairburn ear-
nestly, "but that is only the beginning of this affair.
Suppose we take it for granted that Zeb killed
Wiley Jones. Who killed Zeb?"
"That dof^'-'t make any difference. What we're
after is tL^ low who murdered Jones."
"Ah, but it does make a difference. Listen.
That negro was decoyed from his home — "
"Beyond any question. He went to meet a man
who owed him money and never was seen again
alive. His widow believes he received the money
and on his way home was waylaid by robbers and
278 THE CARPETBAGGER
"I don't think so. Governor, the kiUing of this
negro, in itself may appear an insignificant thing, in
these days when human Hfe is held so cheap, but
it holds the key of old Mr. Reynolds' innocence.
I feel sure of it. Zeb was not murdered for his
money — negroes never have money — he was killed
because he knew too much."
"I'm afraid I don't quite follow you," remarked
the Governor, reflectively.
"Why was Mr. Jones murdered?" Mrs. Fairburn
continued. "What was the motive? Not money —
he had not enough money to tempt anyone. Not
robbery — no one would do so desperate a deed for
this watch. If Zeb killed him he was hired to do
it by some one who wanted Jones out of the way.
And the man who paid that negro to commit the
first crime has silenced him forever by a knife
The Carpetbagger carefully looked out of the
window. "It may be worth looking into," he said
at length. "I'll send for Chief of Police McCul-
lough and talk it over with him." Turning to his
THE CARPETBAGGER 279
desk he wrote a brief note, folded it and rang for
"Take this to police headquarters," he said, "and
get back just as soon as you can. By the way,
"Mistah Lummers done stepped out foh a few
"All right. Hurry back."
The widow arose to go. "Governor," she said,
"find the man who was last seen with that negro;
find the man who owed him money, or promised
him money, or paid him money ; find the man who
sent for him last night; find the man whom he met
— and you will be face to face with the real mr.rderer
of Wiley Jones and slayer of Zeb; thus will the
innocence of old Mr. Reynolds be made clear."
"A woman's heart is the best detective. Perhaps
you are right; we'll see."
MR. WILLETTS MAKES A POINT
Shortly after Mrs. Fairburn left the state house
Nellie and Roy called at the Governor's office. The
Carpetbagger himself had withdrawn into the inner
room and neither Jim nor Lummers was on duty.
They looked about the room, surprised to find it
unoccupied, and sat down at the Governor's desk.
"Isn't it just awful," remarked the young
"soldier" disconsolately, "that we can't do anything
but sit down and grow?"
"Awful," echoed Nellie with a sigh. "And if I
do go back to Chicago you'll forget me in six
months, I s'pose."
"I won't forget you in six thousand years," cried
Roy, vehemently. "You just wait and see!"
"I don't want to wait. That's just the trouble.
Of course I promised father I wouldn't run away;
but if any one were to come along and carry me
off I couldn't help that, could I?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 281
Roy shook his head. "Couldn't do it," he said,
"I have given him my word of honor."
*'Oh, what did you do that for!"
"What could a soldier do when he was treed?"
"Treed? When were you treed? Who treed
"Well, Captain Roy Fairburn, I don't think you
have managed this affair well, at all. You said you
would meet me at the magnolias the other night,
but you didn't. If you had come — "
"You didn't do any such thing."
"Captain Roy Fairburn! What a story!"
"I tell you I did."
"Well, where were you, then?"
"I didn't see you."
"The Governor did."
"Well, do something! Think of something!
Suppose this horrid election should go wrong!"
282 THE CARPETBAGGER
"They'd take you back to Chicago — if they could;
but could they?"
Nellie's pretty pink lips were dangerously close
to his own. "Do you think they could?" she asked,
and the Governor in the next room heard a sound
which startled him from a reverie and brought back
the days when he used to hear whippoorwills in
"Hello!" he cried, giving a premonitory cough
as he entered the room. "What are you doing
"We won't have to go right back to Chicago,
will we?" inquired Nellie, blushing almost as red
as the rose in her hair.
"Well — you needn't pack your trunk to-night."
"I don't see why anyone should want to vote
against you, anyway. Why do they?"
"Political reasons, I guess."
"I don't believe there ought to be any such rea-
"Well," laughed the Governor, "I don't know
that I do, either; but other folks seem to think
THE CARPETBAGGER 283
"I don't want Nellie to go back to Chicago,"
chimed in Roy.
"And I don't want to go back, either," inter-
"I'd rather stay. Up there there's nothing but
school all the time and you never see a — "
"Whippoorwill? That's so — it has been a good
many years since I heard one up there."
"I don't want Nellie to go back," spoke up the
young lover manfully. "You know what I mean.
I want her to stay right here — always."
A kindly light shone in the Governor's eyes.
"My boy," he remarked, "you are merely wasting
your time with me. You know what I told you
the other night. Go home and talk to your
Roy seized his cap. "I'll do it!" he cried. "You
stay right here," he continued, addressing Nellie,
"I'll be back in a jiffy."
284 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Father," began Nellie when they were alone,
"you aren't sorry to-day, are you?"
"Sorry? Nonsense! Why should I be sorry?"
"You aren't sorry because we are going to be
"Poor! My child, I am the richest man in the
world to-day." Tenderly he stooped and kissed
her. "See what I've got left." Then in a lighter
tone he added: "How would you like to be my
little secretary to-day and help me with my letters,
eh?" Nellie clapped her hands for joy, and giving
the old man another kiss and a hug, went with him
injo the private ofifice.
Willetts came in hurriedly, after making a dis-
creet reconnoisance at the doorway. "Lummers
isn't back yet," he muttered. "The woman couldn't
do the trick. I didn't much believe she could. It
isn't her fault; either he's a fool or he's crazy." He
was walking up and down the room in nervous ex-
citement when Lummers entered.
"Did you get it?" he whispered. Lummers
THE CARPETBAGGER 285
"Good! Let me have it. Where's the nigger?"
"I don't know. He was here when I left."
"Well, you take care of him if he turns up. Stand
at the door out there and while I'm with the Gov-
ernor don't let anybody come in. Understand?"
Lummers walked out into the reception room,
and Willetts started toward the door of the Gov-
ernor's private office. Before he had taken a half
dozen steps the door opened and Gov. Crance came
into the room carrying some papers in his hand.
He stopped short on seeing the lobbyist.
"Governor," remarked Willetts blandly, "I'm
sorry to bother you to-day, but here's a petition I'd
like you to look at, if you will."
Making no reply, the Carpetbagger seated him-
self at his desk. A moment later, he glanced up
and, displaying a little annoyance, said perempto-
rily: "Well, what is it?"
Willetts gave a swift glance about the room and
laid the Midland Railway bill before the Governor.
The latter started as he recognized the document
286 THE CARPETBAGGER
before him and glanced up in surprise. He was
looking down the muzzle of a revolver.
"Sign that," commanded Willetts.
The Carpetbagger's thin lips tightened about the
cigar he was smoking. That was all. "Sit down,"
he said, coolly.
"Your name. Quick!"
"I wouldn't shoot if I were you."
"At any rate you'd better not do any shooting till
after I sign my name. If you did, you know, the
bill wouldn't do you any good."
"You haven't a minute to live unless you do it."
"Now, don't lose your nerve, Willetts, and get
careless. I can't do any writing with a bullet hole
through me. I'm not a fool; sit down."
Slowly the Governor spread out the paper before
him and picked up a pen. Then he rested his left
hand carelessly over the left drawer -of his desk —
beneath it was the revolver Lummers had urged
him to keep within reach. It was time for Jim to
return, he thought, and where was Lummers? A
THE CARPETBAGGEP 287
band of marchers with fife and drum passed by,
making a great din.
"I v/ouldn't object if you'd waste a little ammuni-
tion on those fellows," drily said the Carpetbagger.
"They've kept me nearly crazy all day."
As he spoke he pressed the pen into the paper
with so much force that the point snapped.
"I'm sorry, but this pen is broken. I'll have to
ask you to hand me one from Lummers' desk be-
Willetts uttered an oath. "You did that pur-
posely," he cried. "Governor, I don't want to hurt
you, but you know me. This means business."
The old man smiled and leaned back in his chair.
"I can't very well sign my name without a pen, can
I?" he inquired. "Perhaps there's one in the
drawer here," he added, motioning toward the right
hand drawer, which did not contain the revolver.
"Stop!" cried Willetts, leveling his weapon.
"Don't try that, Governor."
"Well, look for yourself."
Willetts did so. Keeping the Governor "cov-
288 THE CARPETBAGGER
ered" he jerked open the right hand drawer and
felt inside it. "There's nothing here," he said.
"Well, I don't know. Maybe there's one in the
Willetts walked around the desk, reaching out
his hand to open the left drawer and as he did so
the Governor suddenly stirred. "There's a pen
right on top of Lummers' desk over there," he said.
"Shall I get it?"
"Sit down," sternly commanded the gambler, as
he backed over to the secretary's desk. He turned
his head for a moment to pick up the pen. It was
only an instant, but it was long enough for the
Governor to pull open the left drawer. Within it
lay a revolver in plain view. Above it rested the
Carpetbagger's left hand.
Willetts threw down the pen and the Governor
picked it up. "If I sign this," he drawled, evidently
fighting for delay, "how do I know that I'll get
a cent out of it? You said you'd give me fifty thou-
sand. Does that agreement hold?"
"We'll treat you right," growled Willetts.
*'Well, this doesn't look much like it."
THE CARPETBAGGER 289
Nellie entered from the private office, opening a
door squarely behind Willetts. Seeing a strange
man pointing a revolver at her father, she uttered
a loud cry of alarm, Willetts turned upon her with
the rapidity of a flash of lightning. Then he
wheeled about to keep the Governor "covered."
The old man was upon his feet; his long left arm
was extended and the murderous muzzle of a big
revolver was thrust into Willetts' face.
"Drop it!" came in stern tones from the Gov-
ernor. The gambler's grasp relaxed and his
weapon fell to the floor. The Carpetbagger picked
"A moment ago," he said slowly, "I didn't have
a pistol handy. Now I have one more than I can
use. There's yours."
He threw Willetts' weapon before him on the
desk. The gambler stretched forth his hand
eagerly, but suddenly drew it back again, as if he
were afraid he might be stung. He had seen some-
thing in the clear blue eyes of the tall man before
him that he didn't like.
290 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Governor," he stammered, "I — I — don't want to
"Don't you?" sarcastically asked the Carpetbag-
ger. "I must have misunderstood you. I thought
WHAT JIM FOUND
Toward evening Major Reynolds strolled over
to the residence of Mrs. Fairburn. He found her
sitting upon the veranda and, as the red glow of
sunset lighted up her face, he thought he never
had appreciated her rare beauty before. Certainly
she never had seemed so beautiful to him.
"Alice," he said, as she arose to greet him, "I
am Governor of Mississippi. The returns are not
in yet, but my advices leave no room for doubt as
to the result."
"I congratulate you, Major, with all my heart,
and I also congratulate the state."
"And now I have come to you for my reward."
"The state has already rewarded you, Major."
"I care not for that, Alice. You know the only
reward I have longed for, hoped for, prayed for.
May I not claim it now?"
292 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Let me ask you a question: The election is
over; has Gov. Crance acted in good faith toward
"Yes; I think he has."
"Has he fulfilled every obligation to you and to
"I believe so."
"Has he kept his promises? Has he acted honor-
ably? Are you satisfied that he has made full restor-
ation to the state so far as he could do it?"
"And what is his reward?"
"A clear conscience and the respect of his fellow
"Does he command your respect for what he has
"Then, may he not claim mine?"
The Major hesitated. "I will admit I was wrong
the other night," he said, "in calling you to account
for your friendliness toward him; but it was my
great love for you which prompted me to do it.
THE CARPETBAGGER 293
But I told you then that as soon as I was elected
Governor I should call for your answer. Alice — "
"Come into the house," she said. A half hour
later they came out together and walked down to
the State House.
During the exciting scene which followed the
unexpected entrance of Nellie Crance into the Gov-
ernor's office that young woman was not idle. She
did not wait to see the old Carpetbagger turn the
tables on his antagonist, but ran screaming into
the reception room, where she found Lummers
standing on guard at the door. Again and again
she called upon the recreant secretary for help, but
he paid no attention to her entreaties. Suddenly a
black giant loomed up in the entrance. "Oh, Jim!
Jim!" she cried. "Come quick! They're killing
Father!" Lummers barred the negro's way. Jim's
long right arm shot out like a catapult and his fist
landed squarely between Lummers' eyes. The
secretary reeled backward the entire length of the
room and fell limp and apparently lifeless in a heap
294 THE CARPETBAGGER
Upon the floor. Another second and Jim stood at
the Governor's side.
"Foh de Lawd's sake!" he gasped. "What's de
"Jim," calmly replied the Carpetbagger, "Mr.
Willetts, having no further use for his pistol, has
kindly made you a present of it. Take it. It's
The darkey looked at Willetts. "Take it," com-
manded the Governor. "You may have it." Jim
picked up the weapon gingerly, as if he were afraid
it might explode.
"Somebody should get a doctor for Mr. Lum-
mers," cried Nellie.
"Lummers?" said the Carpetbagger. "What's
the matter with Lummers? Where is he?"
"When Miss Nellie called me just now," ex-
plained Jim, "Mistah Lummers he sorter got in mah
way. An' I tried to get by 'im an' I couldn't. An'
I put out mah hand kind o' sudden like. An' I felt
suthin'. An' I looked down an' dar was Mistah
Lummers gwine t' sleep. Reckon I'd better took
THE CARPETBAGGER 295
after him a little foh dat ain't no fitten place for a
man t' dose ofif."
"If he's hurt bring a doctor," said the Governor,
just as a police officer in uniform appeared in the
doorway and saluted. "Ah, McCulIough, come in.
This fellow is a trifle too careless with firearms. I
had to take his pistol away from him a few minutes
ago. Take him away. Lock him up."
"Governor, don't do this," pleaded Willetts, "I've
always been your friend — always."
"That may be," responded the Governor, "but I
don't like your familiarity sometimes."
Major Reynolds came in with Mrs. Fairburn on
his arm. At the doorway they halted, surprised by
the unexpected sight of a police officer. "Pardon
our intrusion, Governor," said the Major. "What's
The Governor threw down his weapon. "Noth-
ing at all, thank you," he said. "Mr. Willetts and
I merely had a slight difiference of opinion. He
thought I would make a good target."
At the mention of the gambler's name Mrs. Fair-
296 THE CARPETBAGGER
burn started. As the officer turned to lead Willetts
away, she stepped forward. "May I speak to Mr.
Willetts a moment?" she asked.
"Certainly," replied the Governor.
"Mr. Willetts," she began with a voice soft and
sweet as a siren's song, "I don't know what has
just occurred here and I hope you will pardon me
for interrupting you at such a time. But you are
now in a position to help me and perhaps I also
can assist you. My laundress is the wife of the
negro Zeb, who was found dead in Thompson's
lumber yard. I am told that he formerly was in
"I had a nigger a while ago to look after my
horses. I suppose it's the same fellow — I don't
know," growled the gambler.
"Well, now, Mr. Willetts," the widow proceeded
insinuatingly, "here is the point. Zeb left home
to get some money you owed him. He was way-
laid by robbers on his way home. They took what-
ever he had, but there is no way of telling how
much they found. It has occurred to me that per-
THE CARPETBAGGER 297
haps you didn't pay Zeb at all. If you didn't I
hope you will turn over the money to his widow
right away. Poor thing, she needs it."
"Well, I paid the nigger — every cent I owed him.
That settles that."
A queer light glowed in Mrs. Fairburn's eyes, but
the gambler did not notice it.
"Then you gave Zeb the money?" she softly in-
quired, stepping closer.
"When did you see him last?"
"Early in the evening. I don't know the exact
"You sent for him?"
"He'd been working for me. I owed him a small
balance and told him to come up and get it."
"He kept the appointment you made?"
"You met him?"
Mrs. Fairburn was standing face to face with
Willetts. Looking him straight in the eyes she
298 THE CARPETBAGGER
said, as quietly and as conclusively as one might
discuss the weather or the price of butter: "And
you murdered him."
Willetts did not start. He had been a gambler
too long to betray whatever might be passing in his
mind. He laughed uneasily. "Did I?" he in-
quired. "Well, I'd entirely forgotten that. Per-
haps I did."
"You decoyed that negro from his home. You
waited for him in the dark. You met him as a
friend and drove your knife through his heart be-
cause you were afraid of what he knew!"
A sneer was the only response. The officer
stepped forward and laid his hand on Willetts'
shoulder. "Come," he said, laconically. Big Jim
stood in the doorway and did not step aside to per-
mit them to pass. " 'Scuse me, sah," he said, "but
I'd like to—"
"Silence, you black rascal!" shouted the hot-
headed Major. "How dare you interfere in — "
The Governor raised his hand. "Pardon!" he
said. "Let him speak. Go on, Jim. What is it?"
THE CARPETBAGGER 299
"Thankee, sah. Dis heah fool niggah Zeb was
mah wife's cousin — an' he was a bad man. A didn't
say nuffin 'bout it befo' and cause fob why: I didn't
want no knife holes in mah shirt. I didn't want
nobody come slashing up my gyarments. An' dat's
jest what dat fool niggah 'd do."
"Well, is that all?" impatiently inquired the Car-
"Naw, sah. Dat ar lady what's a mohning fob
her husband has been comin' ober t' mah house
most ebbery day an' she's been sayin' things t' mah
" 'Pears like Wiley Jones an' Mistah Willetts was
bofe of 'em in dis heah railway Ian' deal. An' dey
quarrel. Den dar's Wiley Jones — killed. Den
heah comes a fool niggah toting 'round Wiley
Jones' watch. Who'd git Wiley Jones' watch,
'ceptin' de man whut kill 'im? An' why he want t'
kill Wiley Jones, anyway, 'ceptin' he git paid fur it?"
Willetts looked bored. "All this may be very
entertaining," he said. "No doubt you find it so.
But if there is no objection, I would prefer to—"
300 THE CARPETBAGGER
"Hold on, Willetts!" sternly exclaimed the Gov-
ernor. "I'll tell you when to go."
"Dat mohnin'," proceeded Jim, "a nigg-ah 'oman
comes a' runnin' up t' me an' she says 'Zeb's a-lyin'
ober yander in de lumberyard.' I run ober dar, an'
dar is Zeb wid a big slash in his breast — dead. An*
dis heah is a funny thing — "
The negro stopped and began fumbling in his
pocket. "Dar was Zeb a-lyin' on de groun' wid one
han' shet up tight — dis way. An' hangin' right
outen heah, atween his fingers, was dis little piece
o' chain what he cotch off de man what was a killin'
of 'im — cotch off while he was a-grabbin' foh his
Jim extended his hand. Resting on its palm was
a golden watch charm — a large horseshoe set with
"I see dis heah watch chahm befo," continued the
negro solemnly. "I see it often — right in dis heah
room, too — right dar!" As he spoke he pointed
dramatically toward Willetts' vest.
Governor Crance took the glittering horseshoe
THE CARPETBAGGER 301
and examined it critically. "It's a lie!" shouted
Willetts. "It never was mine!"
"Oh, course not, of course not!" replied the Gov-
ernor. "I have no doubt you can easily explain,
to a jury just why your watch chain at present isn't
complete. If you have any trouble in doing so,
however, we stand ready I think, to supply the miss-
ing link." Turning to the officer he added: "Take
him away. No bail. Hold him for murder."
THE WATERS CLEARED
As Chief McCullough left the Governor's office
with his prisoner, the latter's wrists encircled by
steel handcuffs, Roy met them in the lobby.
Breathless with astonishment, he rushed into the
executive chamber and Nellie immediately under-
took to explain to him everything- that had occurred
during his brief absence — the assault upon the Gov-
ernor, her own opportune arrival, the coming of
Jim, the meeting of Lummers, the arrest of Willetts
and the charge against him. She made only one
mistake — she attempted to tell all this in one sen-
tence without stopping for breath and, as a result,
Roy merely gathered from her excited chatter that
something wonderful had happened. With true
soldierly instinct, he regretted that he had not been
on hand while the fighting was in progress.
Major Reynolds extended his hand to Jim.
THE CARPETBAGGER 303
"Give me your black hand, sir," lie said. "For my
father and for myself I thank you. I shall not for-
get what you have done. This place shall be yours,
sir, as long as I am Governor, if you want it."
Jim grasped the Major's hand timidly,
"Thankee, sah," he said. "Thankee, kindly."
Then he glanced toward the Carpetbagger. "But
dar's nebber gwine to be moli dan one gub'nor fob
me, nohow, of he'll hab me wid 'im."
"Governor," said the Southerner, "in advance of
the returns, I want to congratulate you, sir, as the
only man who ever defeated me in a personal cam-
With a little hesitation Melville Crance grasped
the hand that was extended toward him. There was
doubt in his voice as he wonderingly said: "Ah,
Major, you're joking; but I'm heartily glad that the
shoe is on the other foot to-day. You are virtually
governor of Mississippi at this moment and elected
by the largest majority ever given a candidate. I'm
not sorry. I congratulate the state, and I wish
"I repeat it, sir, the victory to-day is yours."
304 THE CARPETBAGGER
"If you believe that, Major," said the Carpet-
bagger Hghtly, "my advices, I am certain, are more
accurate than yours. You have carried — "
"I have carried Mississippi — that's all. You, sir,
have done more than that; you have carried your-
self. A political victory is mine but in it I find the
severest defeat of my lifetime."
Governor Crance looked at his gallant adversary
in bewilderment. The Major turned toward Mrs.
Fairburn, made her a courtly bow and walked away
without a word.
The room had suddenly grown still. Nellie and
Roy had ceased their chattering. The silence was
oppressive. Doubtingly, timidly, the Carpetbagger
glanced at the woman who had saved him from
himself. Slowly she raised her eyes until they met
his gaze — they were swimming with tears, but there
was no sadness in them.
"Governor," she said as she extended her hand —
her voice as sweet as music in the night — "the water
of that mountain brook has become clear."
THE CARPETBAGGER 306
Outside there was a confused babel of voices
mingled with cheers and the sound of hurrying feet.
Jim stuck his woolly head in at the door. "De leg-
islatur hab adjourned!" he cried.
But the Carpetbagger neither heard nor knew.
The woman he loved was in his arms. "I have lost
a state," he said, "but I have won an empire."
THE LIBRARY OF THE